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March 29, 2004

Richard Clarke’s testimony
Posted by Teresa at 02:00 PM *

These seem to me to be the obvious implications of Richard Clarke’s testimony before the 9/11 Commission, and the White House’s response to it:

1. Bush & Co. have always made it clear that they believe intelligence-gathering and analysis should be secondary to, and in the service of, policies they’ve already decided on. It should not come as such a surprise that they treated the anti-terrorism analyses and programs they inherited from the Clinton administration as though they were arbitrary political creations.

2. A man doesn’t break a lifetime’s habits of honor and integrity just to promote one book, and it is contemptible of the Bush people to suggest that Richard Clarke is doing so. It does, however, let us know that that’s what they’d do if they had a book to promote—aside from the part about having a record for honor and integrity to start with.

3. Since the event itself occurred, it’s been a foregone conclusion that there would at some point have to be a public hearing on 9/11. Bush & Co., knowing they can’t avoid it altogether, have all along been trying to reduce the 9/11 commission to window-dressing, starting with its original wholly inadequate budget and schedule (to say nothing of originally appointing Henry Kissinger to run it).

Their reaction to testimony there has all been spin control. This has been most evident in the case of Richard Clarke—so far, the most clear, thoughtful, incisive, and well-informed person to testify before the commission—against whom they’ve mounted a large, centrally organized campaign meant to discredit him.

That is: they’re not interested in finding out what happened. And if they’re not interested now, and they weren’t overwhelmingly interested right after it happened—which they weren’t—then they can’t have been interested in the question during the intervening months and years; which means that the laxity and light-mindedness that characterized their security policies before 9/11 will have continued to undermine whatever efforts they’ve made since then.

(And no, they weren’t interested right after the attacks happened. It’s long been known that on the day itself, before the blood was dry on the rubble, they were already working to pin the blame on Iraq and Saddam Hussein. That wasn’t a response to events. They already wanted to go after Iraq and Saddam Hussein before the start of this administration.

As I said to Patrick when that story first came out, it has two possible implications. One was that they knew enough about the attacks beforehand, that afterward they weren’t worried that whomever-it-was might pose a greater threat than Saddam Hussein. The other had to be that they didn’t give a damn.)

Real security takes a long-term committed attention to the details. We’d know it by its effects if it were present in the administration’s efforts. The indicators all point the other way. We could recite a long, long list of them here. To pick a few at random: blowing up Chemical Ali’s house, rather than securing and searching it for records relating to presumed WMDs. Casually and needlessly alienating our potential allies and information sources. Not lifting a finger to increase the security of containerized shipping. Et cetera. Yadda. More. Very long list.

This means that if we’re lucky enough to still have people of Richard Clarke’s caliber working on our national security at that level, you should imagine them, several years in the future, testifying before yet another commission investigating yet another disaster, about the derelictions that are going on right now.

Is there anything about the current hearings that does interest the administration? From the evidence so far, they’re interested in controlling what you and I find out about what happened, and what the administration did and didn’t do about it. But they’re only concerned about that because we vote, and because Dubya’s perennially sensitive about the lustre of his reputation. Our actual safety doesn’t enter into the calculation.

Comments on Richard Clarke's testimony:
#1 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: March 29, 2004, 06:35 PM:

"Our actual safety doesnít enter into the calculation."

What's really awful about that: If there's another attack on American soil, people will rally around Bush again, and we'll get another round of worthless but burdensome security measures*.

Sheesh.

* I can picture the planning meeting: "Let's put the National Guard troops that roam airport terminals in FULL BODY ARMOR and have them tote around 50 cal machine guns! Then people would KNOW we're serious about protecting them!"

#2 ::: Adam Rice ::: (view all by) ::: March 29, 2004, 07:11 PM:

This is good. I appreciate the insight in point 1 particularly.

One aspect of the entire Clarke affair that only struck me after it had time to sink in was when Leslie Stahl made a comment about how he was bringing down a smear campaign upon himself. Well, of course. We all know that, but the thing is, we've gotten desensitized to something we need to remain aware of. Isn't it an odd thing that it's a foregone conclusion now? I'm not sure when the turning point was, but I think it was in '96, when the GOP took the House, that we could pretty much count on anything that would outrage the Republican machine generating this kind of smear campaign.

#3 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: March 29, 2004, 07:40 PM:

I wouldn't call myself desensitized. Terrified, is more like it. The message they send is, "We won't just win the fight; we'll win it by any available means, fair or otherwise; and then we'll destroy you personally for having opposed us." I got scared sometime between the crushing of J. H. Hatfield, the South Carolina campaign that brought down John McCain, and the undisguised attack on the vote count in Florida that made it clear that these people don't expect to ever fall out of power. In all my life I've never been scared before in quite this way, and I resent it, and I can't shake it. Say what you will about any of the preceding presidents, but they counted us as fellow-citizens, and had an attachment to democracy that went beyond lip service.

#4 ::: Matt Austern ::: (view all by) ::: March 29, 2004, 08:05 PM:

Actually, it's even a little worse than what Stefan said.

If there's no attack between now and November then we should vote for Bush, because he has kept us safe. If there is an attack between now and November then we should vote for Bush, because the world is a dangerous place and we can't let the terrorists divert us from our course.

We're dealing with an updated version of Morton's Fork.

#5 ::: Rachael ::: (view all by) ::: March 29, 2004, 08:54 PM:

There must be something in the air, after reading a fair chunk of Persepolis I decided to rent Hand Maid's Tale tonight (you know, just in case I wasn't feeling bleak enough.) Is this how the women of Iran felt in the 70's? That surely everyone will see what maddness this is? That surely my fellow citizens will not fall for these lies? We are taught to view all change as forward progress, but will it all just turn out to be some later cultures' dark age?

#6 ::: Graydon ::: (view all by) ::: March 29, 2004, 09:57 PM:

Y'all, at the very outside, should have started hanging various members of the administration just as soon as the Attorney-General of the United States started holding prisoners incommunicado without charge.

(Anyone willing to make the Second Amendment 'defence against tyranny' argument should presently be asked why they haven't shot John Ashcroft. And no, legality is not an acceptable reason; that argument presumes extralegality of action is legitimate.)

It's still not too late, but don't kid yourselves that this lot recognize the legitimacy of voting, democratic institutions, or the rule of law.

They don't; they're the natural product of corporate autocracy, and the belief that someone else always pays and that they always profit which has been allowed to persist and extend itself throughout the business -- meaning default, common, daily -- culture of the Western world.

Farmers leavened with shopkeepers and professionals each have their own income, their own work and standing and status, along with heavy doses of reality in the form of weather; salaried employees have the necessity of obedience, while managers have -- at sufficiently high level -- the reliable option of expending employees to avoid personal responsibility.

It is not purely so, but that's the shape of the thing; capitalism becomes the iron boot of tyranny because that's what everyone is used to in their daily lives. It becomes as natural as breathing to submit and obey, to accept that one's life is intractably unjust, that others shall have the greater part of the profit of one's labour, and that the needs of faceless others are of inherently greater concern than your own good health and prosperity.

A farmer doesn't have to accept that; an employee does.

It need not be so; the slavers and the aristos insist that this is the only possible organization of an economy, into a hundred thousand petty tyrannies free of any moderation of law, but they are wrong. Organization is not required to beget tyranny; it's quite likely that the non-tyrannical forms work much better, not just as well.

I could wish I could believe there was a way from here to there that didn't involve a river of blood, but I don't.

#7 ::: Scorpio ::: (view all by) ::: March 29, 2004, 09:57 PM:

Luster??

And here I thought that was an oil slick!

Scorpio
Eccentricity

#8 ::: Cassie Krahe ::: (view all by) ::: March 29, 2004, 11:15 PM:

This is why I know so many people who will vote for anyone likely to beat Bush. Of course, then there's the whole voting-machine thing going on...any way around that?

#9 ::: betsy ::: (view all by) ::: March 29, 2004, 11:24 PM:

cassie: vote by absentee ballot. encourage other people to do so as well.

personally, i just signed up to be an election judge. i'm in minnesota, so i'm not sure how many democrat election judges they'll need... but i signed up!

#10 ::: Larry B ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2004, 12:11 AM:

What scares me is that I know some otherwise reasonable people who think that Bush really is protecting them. One childhood friend of mine even thinks that "scaring our allies" is a good thing, and doesn't mind if we wind up as a tyranny as long as fetuses are protected. And this is an educated man - he's only come into his radical thought system in the last couple of years. He also rejects any argument I might make because I'm a "Bush Hater." I can only hope that he's a rare bird.

I agree that this administration has little respect for democratic institutions - I only hope that we can turn them out of office using the tools that they disdian, truth and accurate ballot counting.

#11 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2004, 01:51 AM:

Graydon:

The USA has a Family Farm myth, that plays into stuff like Smallville. Reality is a lot different. Fewer than 3 percent of the population are involved in agriculture...

And generally regarding agriculture, consider e.g. ancient Rome and its agriculture, it was =not- based on Small Family Farms.... It had huge estate farms, with lots of slaves. WHen it became an empire it got most of the wheat from Egypt, where the farms had slaves, and had owners who often rented out the fields. They, too, used a lot of slaves. That doesn't sound like family freeholder no-management agriculture to me.

I had relatives who had a dairy farm with 200 cows back before there was a glut of milk and the federal government paid people to get out of the dairy business. It was a family farm, but had a number of employees, meaning that the farmers were managers. The farm a half mile away, which is pretty much the last one left in town, grows flowers and vegetables and fruit, and it has employees, and employes seasonal workers to pick fruit and vegetables. It's a family farm, but it has employees.

As for Bully Boy Bush and his Bunch of Bully Buddies [their actions very much remind me of schoolyard bullies, and I had eleven years of unwanted unpleasant association with the species], I don't have positive things to say.

Bush is NOT my idea of "human," the man is closer to what an old acquaintance calls "a paraliterate -- someone who can read and write but doesn't like to and prefers not to and wishes they couldn't." Bush does not read newspapers, he doesn't watch news on TV, he expects other people who do that to give him m/i/d/d/l/e s/c/h/o/o/l b/o/o/k reports and filter everything for him, telling him what they saw/read.

Hmm, he sounds like some sort perturbation on a classical 1950 stereotype Ideal Female, who lives her life through what her Husband does, she's at home being a homemakers while the husband is out interacting in the world, and she runs his life by remote control and lives vicariously through his achievements. Here we have a politician who has a clear resemblance to clay lumphood, sitting by intention isolated from what the hoi polloi see and read, limiting the input from anyone with opinions he doesn't want to have to pay attention to or whom his censors consider unworthy of having their opinions forwarded to the d/i/c/t/a/t/o/r Politician allegedly "leading"....

"Marat we're poor, and the poor stay poor...." doesn't quite apply, because bullies' policies have increase the percentage of poor in the country, are bankrupting people who were once "middle class" and are concentrating every-larger percentages of the wealth and resources and financial control of the country, into the hands of them and their associates like Lay, the Tycho looters, etc.

#12 ::: Robert L ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2004, 02:19 AM:

Paula--You wrote: "the Tycho looters" You mean they're on the Moon too?! God help us...

#13 ::: Justine ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2004, 05:16 AM:

What's the "morton's fork" that Matt refers to?

US ports aren't secure? You're kidding, right? As a visa-holding non-USian I've had to be fingerprinted and photographed entering the US and as a result not only missed my connecting flight but every other connecting flight that day. So you're telling me that they can spend the money to inconvenience human beings who've already been searched up the wazoo, but they can't come up with a dime to make sure there are no nuclear weapons in inanimate container ships? That's insane.

#14 ::: Niall McAuley ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2004, 05:52 AM:

I just finished rereading Vinge's _A Deepness in the Sky_, the one about the artfully translated Spiders, and I realized that Bush & Co. have improved it greatly since I read it last.

When I first read it in what, 1999, I thought Tomas Nau and the Emergency were cartoon villains, evil just for the sake of it, but this time through I saw the real life parallels.

In particular, there is one scene where the humans are in deep shit, it's about to get a lot worse, and Nau is already planning how the coming mass deaths on his watch can be used to consolidate his power.

#15 ::: Tim Illingworth ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2004, 06:30 AM:

Morton's Fork: Morton was Henry VII's Chancellor of the Exchequer: ie the man charged with raising money for the King.

He would visit nobles: if they entertained him well, obviously they were rich, and could pay lots of tax. If they entertained poorly, obviously they were saving everything and could pay lots of tax...

#16 ::: David Frazer ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2004, 06:46 AM:

To pick a few at random: blowing up Chemical Aliís house, rather than securing and searching it for records relating to presumed WMDs. Casually and needlessly alienating our potential allies and information sources.

Or not lifting a finger to secure any supposed suspected WMD sites. Letting local residents near one site (I forget the name -- all my Iraqi WMD knowledge has been replaced by more relevant stuff like the names of Shia clerics) take away some nice, useful, contaminated barrels. Letting anyone who may have been looking for nuclear, biological or chemical warfare materials to steal any quantities of same that may have existed. Etc, etc, etc.

#17 ::: Justine ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2004, 06:58 AM:

Thank you, Tim.

#18 ::: Lis Riba ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2004, 07:22 AM:

US ports aren't secure? You're kidding, right?

Sadly no.
Homeland Security has spent a lot of money for splashy programs with a lot of sound and fury (and patronage) that look showy, but avoided some of the necessary fundamental changes that would really make us secure.

For all the expense on air travel, next to nothing has been done to examine or protect cargo containers at U.S. seaports. And that's a real vulnerability, antiterrorism experts acknowledge.

Since so far, Al Qaeda has rarely attacked the same way twice, we've just spent a lot of money on a Maginot line in the airports (and getting people accustomed to humiliating cattle car style searches) without protecting against what's coming in through shipping channels.

#19 ::: Adrian Bedford ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2004, 07:56 AM:

Teresa, I share your terror. I'm old enough to remember Nixon, and the more I found out about the Nixon Administration, the more scared I got. Even so, the current guys strike me as orders of magnitude worse.

What really worries me is this: I read a lot of political blogs and other commentary, particularly comment from the left side of things. All of these sites do a tremendous job of pointing out what's wrong with the way things are now, and explaining why the US (and nations like mine, Australia, that follows US policy to a worrying degree) has to change course. It's great stuff to read, and to know that there are people in the US who do have brains in their heads, who do care about the rule of law, and so forth.

But is it enough? Is it making a difference to anyone? Is it helping turn the tide against Bush and his minions? I don't know that it is. I would hate to see all this passionate, illuminating effort poured forth on tremendous websites across America, only for the bad guys to win again. I fear that if they do win again, then sometime around 2007 something Utterly Dreadful will happen that will cause the government to suspend the constitution and for Emperor Bush to start ruling by decree, elections put off until the crisis is over (more or less the way we're waiting until the War on Terror is "over").

So, yes. I'm freaking out over here. And feeling additionally disturbed that our prime minister, John Howard, just loves the special attention he's getting Bush and Co. He can't wait to implement US policy here, and to act as America's deputy in regional matters.

Then again, I guess I could be "just" one of those "Bush Haters", eh? And what would I, a mere Australian, know about anything?

That was a top post. Keep it up.

#20 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2004, 08:04 AM:

Teresa strongly prefers I not post what I drafted in response to Graydon's remarks above, so I won't.

I will only note that a lot of countries in the modern era have gone through periods of having their political life dominated and distorted by authoritarian oligarchs, and many of them have managed to struggle to (or re-achieve) something like democracy without "rivers of blood."

I also think that, while we're beating our breasts and wailing over our political misfortune, perhaps we should run to, oh, for instance, Vaclav Havel for sympathy. No, wait. Maybe we should wait until we've been clapped in jail for at least one year before we do that.

I don't mean to minimize the wickedness of the gang in charge. But I think their grip on power is still a lot more fragile, and we have a lot more options, than have been the case in many places and times elsewhere in the world's recent history.

What we face is a job. We have to beat these guys, and we have to re-establish something like normal politics. But it's doable. It would help, at this point in time, to put a cork on all the dramatic talk about hanging people and rivers of blood.

#21 ::: Jill Smith ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2004, 08:04 AM:

Here's another bit of paranoia to toss into the mix:

I used to travel about 50% of my workweek (one reason why I no longer work for that company). During one of the "security" spikes where "random" passengers get screened again during the boarding process, I noticed something a bit odd. The security screeners were two men and one woman. I handed over my bags to the two men, and was wand-searched by the woman. After getting my things back, I wondered what on Earth was nagging at me over this process (other than the obvious, "It's invasive and uncomfortable to have somebody paw through your stuff"). I looked back and watched the others who were screened, watched them get back into line (long delays are good for observation, if nothing else) and realized that out of a flight of 150 or so people, they had only chosen young-ish women traveling alone to screen.

So much for "random."

Those searches are often thorough enough where they rifle through your wallet, giving them a quick peek at your driver's licence. Any mystery writers are welcome to the plot - unraveling why serial killer chose various women as victim... eventually traced back to the same flight...

I hate feeling paranoid (not a normal occurrence) - does anyone else think that's creepy, or should I just don a tinfoil hat and get on with life?

#22 ::: Graydon ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2004, 08:18 AM:

Paula --

In, say, 1800, when the system was settling out, most people in the US with the vote were farmers; generally pretty cantankerous freeholders. Which is the period of 'farmers leavened with shopkeepers' that I meant, the one the form of government the US was meant to deal with. (Most of the careful power limitations are the wrong limitations for constraining large corporates.)

I'm not sure where you're connecting latifunda to my argument; the south had chattel slavery, but even there, most of the people -- the great majority of the people -- with a vote were freeholders. It's an important part of how the founders conceptualized voting.

One consequence of 'one citizen, one vote', and particularly finally starting to enforce that forty years ago so that non-white citizens had votes, is that it completely delegitimizes voting as an activity from the point of view of the cultural descendants of the Old South; they were already pre-disposed to have doubts about voting, but that clinched it. No system that could have the result could possibly be in accord with God's will, and they've been setting out to replace the system ever since.

There are two basic human cultural templates -- guardian and trader, to borrow the Jane Jacobs terms.

Guardian virtues are loyalty, xenophobia, prowess, and courage.

Trader virtues are reliability, xenophilia, adaptability, and pragmatism.

Your basic guys-on-big-horses, smiling-merchant split; essential to society to have both. (Farming can be run out of either set of tropes; it's better if it's Trader, though, because Guardian farms tend to be latifunda.)

If you get first-order mutations in the tropes, stuff starts to go wrong. Guardians with no requirement for prowess or courage turn into looters; traders with no requirement for adaptability turn into rent-seeking monopolists. Take Guardian tropes into trade and you get the Mafia; take Trader tropes into running a war and you get Robert McNamara or the Ross Rifle.

The current bunch running the US are trying to convincing everyone they're good Guardians; they're actually twisted traders, the same basic pattern as the company store. Say you're nice guys; loot through restricting economic choice to what you're selling, and keep it restricted with as much force as it takes.

Another angle to look at this from is the view of votes from the shareholders to confirm the board; pretty much anything is OK, so long as you get the rubber stamp.

That's the benefit of the doubt version for the Bush administration's view of voting. The real thing almost certainly includes worse things, starting with autocratic theocracy and heading off into militant racism.

#23 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2004, 08:33 AM:

"But is it enough? Is it making a difference to anyone? Is it helping turn the tide against Bush and his minions?"

Gee, I dunno, read any news from the ongoing election lately?

Kerry was a couple of points ahead in most polls for a week or two. Then there were several days of Bush being a notch ahead. Right now the picture is mixed.

This is hugely better than the picture a year ago, when Bush was crushing everyone in trial heats. Here in 50% America, the contest is now neck-and-neck, and liable to continue that way.

If you feel like you're not doing anything effective, there's a quick cure. Get out your plastic and give the Kerry campaign some money. I personally recommend $100. Then do the same for the DCCC and the DSCC.

Remember, the point isn't to build the new Jerusalem, crusade for utopia, or establish a libertarian paradise. The point is to get rid of these bastards and re-establish normal American politics, with all the usual compromises, dissemblings, backroom deals, and other moral misdemeanors that implies. All of which is one hell of an improvement on the rule of unfettered Might Makes Right, which is what we're on our way to right now.

So, yeah, I'm saying, give money to a bunch of moderate Democrats. Do it now, do it frequently, and do it all the way to November. As the great weblogger Billmon has observed, these are the kinds of times that call for the old-fashioned notion of a "Popular Front." We can fight all the other battles later.

#24 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2004, 08:36 AM:

And for what it's worth, I quite like Graydon's "guardians" and "traders" model.

Of course, as I was playfully suggesting in my most recent open thread, much of life can be mapped onto the dichotomy of your choice. See also Tappan King's observation that almost everybody is in some fundamental sense either a drug dealer or a spy. (Drug dealer, here.)

Regarding the failure to do diddly to protect containerized shipping: this is high on the list of reasons I'm convinced that the Bush Administration is fine with the idea of me being dead.

#25 ::: Graydon ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2004, 08:51 AM:

Patrick --

I'm the product of almost purely Guardian tropes, so I'm a really pessimistic planner.

In large part, many of these things come down to the willingness and ability of a government to kill its own citizens in pursuit of maintaining its grip on power.

The current US administration is entwined with a decades-long rhetorical effort to establish a climate of belief in which it is perceived as legitimate for them to do that; Dave Niewert's excellent articles documenting this are some of the most frightening reporting coming out of the United States just now, much more frightening (to me) than the evidence of the Bush Administration's general incompetence in governing.

In the late 1950s and early 1960s, the murder of civil rights workers removed a significant degree of legitimacy from the forces opposed to the civil rights movement. Those forces learnt from this; they're doing their well-funded damnedest to change it, so that the murder of 'liberals' is legitimate in the present political climate.

A core concern with progressive politics is the question of what the other side regards as losing, so that you can get them to agree that they've lost on a particular issue.

I'm certain you've seen far more of that in small organizations than I have, where someone will not stop -- they know they're right, so losing the vote doesn't matter; they know they're right, so disagreement doesn't matter; they know they're right, so your opposition to their position must spring from base motives.

This lot have already made it really, really clear that they hold all of those positions, in a complete disdain of empiricism; the only places they have to go from where they're standing is (further) off into 'I will hurt you until you obey' or into admitting that they're wrong.

They're also off into a reality map where nothing is evidence that they're doing something wrong, so nothing is a reason to stop trying to implement their policies. The growing disaster of Iraq, or the consequences of the tax cuts, are clear evidence for that.

So, yes, certainly there is at least a job of work; if that job of work succeeds as work, that shall be a very good thing.

And certainly I would like a reason to believe that the various reactionary forces involved will turn back from the brink, or will be prevented from any desire to impose by force what they cannot obtain by consent. It is perhaps a deficiency in my perception that I cannot see one.

#26 ::: Lis Riba ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2004, 09:03 AM:

Teresa, I share your terror. I'm old enough to remember Nixon, and the more I found out about the Nixon Administration, the more scared I got. Even so, the current guys strike me as orders of magnitude worse.

You're not the only one who feels that way.
Don't know if you heard, but John Dean has a new book coming out next month: Worse Than Watergate: The Secret Presidency of George W. Bush.

#27 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2004, 09:20 AM:

The Dean book is out. I saw it on the shelves at the Union Square Barnes & Noble last night -- the same store that was completely sold out of Richard Clarke's book. (We walked down to the Astor Place B&N, which had the Clarke book in stock.)

Graydon writes: "I would like a reason to believe that the various reactionary forces involved will turn back from the brink, or will be prevented from any desire to impose by force what they cannot obtain by consent."

Because things change. New generations have different needs. Outside forces act on situations in ways that can't be predicted. Powerful coalitions degrade as internal stresses build. If the opposition has its act together, it can take advantage of each of these, as they happen singly or together.

The fact is that frighteningly ruthless oligarchies "turn back from the brink" of full-scale horror all the time, arguably more often than they don't. What really needs to be examined is those instances (1930s Germany, the China of the "Cultural Revolution", the Rwandan calamity) where a society goes sailing over the brink. It's not actually all that common.

"It is perhaps a deficiency in my perception that I cannot see one."

Perhaps; perhaps not. What's definitely a "deficiency in your perception" is that you don't see how your constant harping serves primarily to frighten good people into terrified quiescence.

I long ago realized that one of the great enemies of environmental progress was the activist habit of couching every single environmental danger as an apocalypse in waiting. If you convince people that doom is inevitable, they'll just cocoon. I'm beginning to think that the same is true of the Present Emergency.

#28 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2004, 09:28 AM:

Graydon, I agree with you that business is all too apt to become petty tyranny, but I don't know what the way out is--people have tried to avoid having pointy-haired bosses, but such businesses don't seem to do as well as I'd expect them to even though pointy-haired bosses are very expensive. Perhaps banks are unwilling to lend to non-standard organizations?

My tentative take on the way out of the current mess is for people generally to have enough capital and information to start their own businesses so that they aren't trapped by the need for employment, but I don't know how to get from here to there.

Patrick, thanks for comments on not being near the "rivers of blood" stage. Nitpick: As Graydon said, Jane Jacobs came up with the Guardian/Trader distinction. It's in her _Systems of Survival_.

#29 ::: colleen @ del rey ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2004, 09:34 AM:

I am interested to see if the 9/11 commission is able to get Connie Rice to testify in public. The remarks I heard on NPR this morning were that they felt iof Richard Clarke was forced to testify in public under oath, then she should be held accountable in the same way.

I'll be paying attention to this one...

[Great thread, by the way!]

#30 ::: Stephan Zielinski ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2004, 09:38 AM:

Going back to the whole question of whether the USA's ports are secure or not...

Not only are they not, it's hard to see how they could be. The amount of cargo coming into this country is *tremendous*. And unlike the movies, detecting Bad Stuff within a sealed container is dang near impossible. Something as simple as a beer bottle sealed with lead is effectively gas tight. Embed the whole thing in a block of wax, and you cut down even trace emissions by several more factors of magnitude.

Similarly, nuclear weapons are alpha emitters (mostly). A paper bag will block most of the radiation, and an inch of wood will block most of the rest. You'd have to ram a Geiger counter right against the casing of a nuke to even *hope* to detect it.

The "increased security measures" do effectively nothing to improve security-- they just *look* cool. Unfortunately, they're fantasticly expensive.

#31 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2004, 09:57 AM:

Stephan, what I heard was a strong recommendation to search 10% vs. the current 5%, in the belief that the additional 5% greatly enhances deterrence.

Colleen, it does seem bizarre, to put it no more strongly, to have the National Security Advis r first refuse to testify, then demand to not be required to testify under oath.

#32 ::: Graydon ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2004, 09:57 AM:

Nancy --

The traditional fix for keep the hair of bosses non-pointy is twofold; they have to come up through the business in that business (which has its own problems, but they do tend to know what they're doing) and they have compensation set by performance, rather than social class. (That's one of the things small business pretty much guarantees, after all.)

Non-hierarchical models, all the web-of-responsibility stuff from traditional Unix software team organization through several successful geek-controlled high tech firms through GE's best jet engine assembly plant, are known to work really well. The hard part is to keep the responsibility-shifting insecurity management models from crippling them, and that question of interfaces is certainly an outstanding one.

It would help a lot if the mandated models -- by banks and by the legislative definition of 'business' -- were not the hierarchical ones.

#33 ::: Elizabeth ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2004, 10:03 AM:

Okay. Stuff like this makes me feel very afraid.

But what makes me less afraid, more hopeful, and angry enough to act is that in our past we had a president who suspended the constitution--and then PUT IT BACK.

This isn't a one way street to hell. With care and concern, and a good view to the goals, we can put a bend in the road and steer back to freedom and apple pie. There's more normal moral democratic Americans than there are power mongering weirdos.

I made a rule for myself, about a year ago, when I kept reading things like this and got seriously depressed. My rule was this--I could only read news (or political blogs or whatever) if I then took some kind of action. Didn't have to be big--could be donating money to the Dems, could be signing a MoveOn petition, could be praying. Whatever. It helped a lot.

And I've voted in every silly municpal election--next week's is about road repair and polar bears. I'll be there with my voter card--because nothing scares W as much as my punching my voting ticket.

Come November, I have every faith that a new administration will come in and be in charge of hearings, investigations, and so on.

#35 ::: Graydon ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2004, 10:27 AM:

Patrick --

What's definitely a "deficiency in your perception" is that you don't see how your constant harping serves primarily to frighten good people into terrified quiescence.

Sometimes it's time to stand in the shield wall; sometimes you win, sometimes you yourself live through winning, along with your shoulder companions. Sometimes you all die together, but you make the job easier for the Ealdorman when he gets the muster there. Sometimes you leave a memory of deeds, and accomplish no more.

But when the day comes, it comes. There is no safety in submission.


That's all deeply axiomatic, so I see this set of issues (and the parallel issues in Canada) as a debate about whether or not it's time to stand in the shield wall. (For whatever value that metaphor currently appropriately has.)

It is not natural to me to see it in other terms; it would be closer to say that my ability to intellectually simulate other terms is sadly lacking.

Acquiescence is an acceptance of someone else's right to damage you arbitrarily. As a temporary escape from death, there's an argument for it, but heavy emphasis should be placed on 'temporary'. If it's not going to be temporary, time to do what you can to make the job easier for the next bunch on your side to get there, because the folks demanding submission are going to hurt you as much as they care to, irrespective of whether you acquiesce to their present demands or not.

Having said all that, I shall endeavour to refrain from harping henceforward.

#36 ::: eleanor rowe ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2004, 11:04 AM:

Re: security at the ports:

I work for a London wine merchant, we regularly export (mostly French) wine to the US. Last year 'as part of the United Bioterrorism Response Act of 2002' we were required to register with the FDA. I had a few thoughts on this.

1) This doesn't make anyone any safer. In most cases no one from my company even sets eyes on the boxes we are exporting. They do, however pass through at least two warehouses/shipping agents. If the purpose of registration is to identify us with the suspect goods, the shipping paperwork has always had our name and address on it.

2) In order to register we had to find someone in the US to act as our agent. This is OK for established businesses, but it has to make it harder for new exporters to get US customers.

3) The US Government now has a handy database of all foreignors who sell food and drink to the US. I don't know what use this is to them, though.

So, the net result is that they looked like they were doing something to combat Bioterrorism, but what they were actually doing is collecting data (and making me do paperwork).

I repeat, this doesn't make anyone any safer.

#37 ::: Matt Austern ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2004, 11:19 AM:

I think there are plenty of reasons to think that the Bush administration doesn't care in the least about national security, that they're more like Tomas Nau and the Emergency (I'm glad I'm not the only person who thought of that analogy) than like serious public servents using means I disagree with in support of goals I share. The failure to protect ports is one obvious reason to think that. Other examples include: using the creation of the Department of Homeland Security solely as a short-term feint for weakening federal unions; failing to strengthen protections of chemical and nuclear plants; failing to investigate the anthrax letters (as Anna Russell might have asked: remember the anthrax?); abandoning Afghanistan for the third time; blowing the cover of a CIA agent (when did I start thinking of the CIA as the good guys?); and, just this week, openly manipulating the process of handling classified information whenever it's convenient for attacking their political enemies.

These aren't the actions of people who honestly believe they're defending a nation against foreign enemies.

#38 ::: Adam Rice ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2004, 11:29 AM:
made it clear that these people don't expect to ever fall out of power.

Oh, yes. The "aha" moment for me was the Texas re-redistricting fiasco (I live in Austin, walking distance to intersection where the city has been trifurcated into 3 congressional districts). I realized "these guys don't think the chickens will ever come home to roost."

They're wrong, of course.

I worry too about electronic voting being used to rig the outcome, but this is not a reason to despair, it's a reason to work, as Patrick would say. Elections are not handled on a national level, they're handled on a county and state level. How many states will experience "malfunctions" requiring "corrections"? If there is any tampering, we need to make sure they'll need to do a lot of it: the more they tamper, the more likely they are to screw up or get caught at it.

#39 ::: Erik V. Olson ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2004, 01:00 PM:

If there is any tampering, we need to make sure they'll need to do a lot of it: the more they tamper, the more likely they are to screw up or get caught at it.

So what?

Graydon realizes what the rest of you do not. You cannot beat a foe who will play outside the system if you insist on playing within the system.

When, not if, the House of Representatives or the Supreme Court declares George Bush to be reelected, regardless of what the popular or electoral vote is, what are you going to do?

Because, they will. You keep imagining that all you need to do is get more votes for Kerry, in both the popular and EC votes, and the nightmare will be over.

Dream on. When the GOP in the House, voting by party lines, refuses to accept California's EC votes, and awards the presidency to Bush, what are you going to do?

If you aren't willing to take up arms and fight, you've already lost. You can bet the other side is ready and willing, and they're at the endpoint of a decades long campaign to make violence, esp. viloence against "liberals", acceptible behavoir.

If they can just get the votes, they will. If they have to lie about the counts to win, they will. If that doesn't work, they'll just declare themselves the winners anyway -- and with a majority in the House and the SC, you *will* lose. It's against every principle of law. You enemy does not give a flying fuck about the principle of law. If it lets them win, it is legal. If it lets you win, it is not.

Quit assuming that you can win by following the rules. You will lose if you try.

Graydon's right. These people deserve to hang, and should have hung. We should have fought tooth, nail and blood before we let that man be sworn in as President.

We failed to do so. We lost *everything*.

And you think a "vote" will magically fix that?

#40 ::: Lis Riba ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2004, 01:15 PM:

When, not if, the House of Representatives or the Supreme Court declares George Bush to be reelected, regardless of what the popular or electoral vote is, what are you going to do?

Honestly, I've been giving serious thought to leaving the country. I've agreed that it's only reasonable to stay through the election to try to redefeat Bush, and even if Bush wins, I'm willing to stay if the Democrats break the GOP hold on Congress.

But if the Republicans retain control over the federal government... Well, I'm Jewish and the descendent of Holocaust survivors. I can't lie to myself that it can't happen here.

#41 ::: Reimer Behrends ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2004, 01:17 PM:
Dream on. When the GOP in the House, voting by party lines, refuses to accept California's EC votes, and awards the presidency to Bush, what are you going to do?

Erik, what evidence can you provide that something like this is even remotely likely to happen?

#42 ::: David Bilek ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2004, 01:37 PM:

Erik -

You've gone off the deep end. There are so many things wrong with your post that I don't know where to begin.

So I'll just say that the whole thing was one big paranoid fantasy.

#43 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2004, 01:52 PM:

At the risk of being thought a terrorist, and having my house tossed, my liberty removed and my opportunity to speak to my loved one taken away... The reason I've not taken up arms (and I can make, if I'm am ever given a trial, the defense that I was engaged in upholding and defending the Constitution, "from all, enemies, foreign, and domestic," as my oath of enlistment demands. Might keep me from getting killed by the state, but I doubt it.

I suppose the reason I've not started shooting people is that I'm not the stuff that willing martyrs are made of (that's why I'm a salty sergeant, heading to crusty) and don't see that simply offing one man will make a difference.

I certainly don't think I can get enough of an airing of the issues to make public opinion come to my/our view of events. I would be seen as a lone whack-job and 1: the repressions I hope to abate through the death of evil men will become entrenched, 2: the ability of those who might need to actually rebel (as Jefferson expected to happen with some regularity, so much so that he advised those who suffered such not to punish the rebels to harshly, lest the grievances which caused the revolt become the more firmly emplaced) by virtue of more effective strictures.

Assaulting the Gov't by force of arms (which is what those who say they want guns to, "overthrow" a tyrannous state mean) requires that 1: all other means to gain redress of grievance have failed. At the risk of being more prolix than is my usual wont, I will quote from that Declaration, to clarify, I hope, my argument.

"...to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, --That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed."

A flash in the pan rebellion (no matter how briefly satisfactory it might be to know that some members of the current president's advisors were no longer among the quick) would not effect any good change.

So, I have no plan, nor any encouragement, to see any member of that administration killed.

In fact, because I want it to be overthrown, (nay smashed, destroyed, the walls torn from the foundations; rent asunder so that not one brick remains standing on another, the fragments dispersed and the ground sown with salt, their programs erased, their hopes and aspirations held up to obliquy and ridicule, an example to the nations of what shall not be done again and their names remebered for all time in the halls of shame and disgust, held to be Quislings, puppets of enemeies who saw their petty lusts and played them to gain their own fell ends at the price of liberty and freedom. I want to see the what they have done entered into the rolls of those things we must not forget, nor ever allow to be done again... but I digress) I want them to live an easy life, with nothing more than the peaceful defeat of their party, in an ovewhelming repudiation of them at the polls, then fading into oblivion as the doom and despair they will predict as they depart the stage fails to come to pass.

However, in the event that comes not to pass, I am keeping my powder dry.

Terry K

#44 ::: Rachel Brown ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2004, 02:02 PM:

Patrick, can you explain the drug dealer vs. spy theory?

#45 ::: Lenny Bailes ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2004, 02:02 PM:

>But what makes me less afraid, more hopeful, and
>angry enough to act is that in our past we had a
>president who suspended the constitution--and
> then PUT IT BACK.

This caught me by surprise and inspired a brief round of googling. What I found was three items, none of which actually supports that belief:

a) Thomas Jefferson temporarily suspended all foreign trade during the War of 1812.

b) Abraham Lincoln temporarily suspended the right of habeus corpus during the Civil War. It was restored in 1866.

c) The most controversial claim -- FDR took unconstitutional powers in 1933, when he declared a national emergency. There's an interesting web discussion of this, which some of you may be familiar with, but which was new to me. The gist of it is a case that Roosevelt *violated* (not suspended) the Constitution, and that his National Emergency Act was not officially rescinded for 44 years. (Some people maintain that it still hasn't been rescinded.)

But, none of these constitutes a case of the President "suspending the Constitution and putting it back."

In re Erik's expansion of Graydon's fears. I don't put it past that crew to attempt to void the election if they aren't proclaimed the winners. But I don't see the case, yet, that they'll get away with it. (I have a greater fear that in a close election, they'll try to void it on the grounds of "electronic vote count problems" than that they'll simply have the Supreme Court declare Bush the winner.) I can manufacture as many nightmare scenarios in this vein as anyone, with wide-spread protests and resignations from men of conscience -- who are summarily dismissed as the current regime replaces them with flakier and flakier fundamentalists and corporate cat-killers.

But I'm not convinced they'll have the nerve to try it, yet. I definitely believe that the wider the visible popular and electoral vote totals for Kerry, the less likely it is to happen. So it still makes sense to campaign for as many Kerry votes as possible.

#46 ::: Dan Blum ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2004, 02:05 PM:
Thomas Jefferson temporarily suspended all foreign trade during the War of 1812.

I'm assuming you mean James Madison.

#47 ::: Lenny Bailes ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2004, 02:13 PM:

According to this site, Jefferson banned all British ships from U.S. ports in 1807, and the Embargo Act was also passed during his term. The trade war didn't turn into an officially-declared shooting war until Madison's term in 1812.

#48 ::: Larry B ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2004, 02:42 PM:

Jill:

Re: your travel paranoia - the reason that they stop youngish women traveling alone is that in 1986 a young Irish woman was given a bomb to take aboard an El Al flight (without her knowledge) by her boyfriend. Via BBC.

So it's much more likely to be profiling than something as prosaic as a mass-murderer.

#49 ::: Elizabeth ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2004, 02:50 PM:

Okay, since I made the statement about the consititution being suspended, I'll clarify. I was taught (admittedly by public schools) that Lincoln suspended civil law, habeus corpus, and also various rights that belonged to congress and that it all rolled up into suspending the constitution, which then was put back afterwards. "Suspending the constitution" was what showed up on my tests, way back when. I'm happy to cede to greater knowledge in this area--but I still think it's a series of historical events that allowed for a temporary grasp of power that was then handed back.

#50 ::: Jill Smith ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2004, 02:59 PM:

Larry:

*gulp.*

Is that supposed to make me feel better?

;-)

#51 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2004, 03:12 PM:

Jill - unless you think profiling is worse than being targeted by a serial killer, which I suppose is a position one could take - especially if one is an undercover serial-killer catcher.

#52 ::: Jill Smith ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2004, 03:23 PM:

If they're both unpleasant, do I have to choose only one to be freaked out by?

It wasn't so much the concept of getting profiled that was freaky, it was the notion of somebody slipping an Evil Thing into my suitcase.

Although the idea of profiling off of one incident (if in fact the profile was created due only to one incident in '86) is creepy in and of itself. How many of us fit into the category, "Looks like s/he might be in the same group as someone who once did something nasty"? I don't usually indulge in slippery slope arguments, but where does the line get drawn?

Pardon me, I have to don a disguise and go catch a serial-killer.... Be sure to rescue me in the penultimate chapter, for I'm sure to be in peril by then.

#53 ::: Ab_Normal ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2004, 03:31 PM:

betsy: "personally, i just signed up to be an election judge."

What a great idea! I'm a wage slave, so I don't have the time (if I understand correctly how the election judge thing works), but my husband is a stay at home dad... I'll suggest this to him.

Elizabeth: "My rule was this--I could only read news (or political blogs or whatever) if I then took some kind of action."

Another excellent idea, and perhaps the impetus I need to get OFF MY ASS and do something.... shee-yah, right. Ah, well, a girl can dream.

#54 ::: Julia Jones ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2004, 03:54 PM:

I'm clearly on someone's list of potential terrorists. For the last couple of years, every single time I've gone through an American airport, I've been selected for the "random" extra-special search at the gate. Last time but one, the airline staff member at the ticket desk didn't quite manage to hide her reaction when she read whatever it was that came up on the screen after she'd scanned my ticket and passport.

Now, I can think of several reasons why I might be profiled, not least being that I was born in Belfast. But it's only *American* airports. Not British or Australian airports, or any of the points between. And occasionally I think paranoid thoughts about why that might be.

#55 ::: Adam Lipkin ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2004, 03:59 PM:

Erik sez, among other things: You cannot beat a foe who will play outside the system if you insist on playing within the system.

You can, if you overwhelm it. A slim margin, sure, maybe they can sneak some tactic in, but the more the scales are stacked against them, the more obvious their attempt to veto or violate the election will be, and the more ready people (I hope) will be to speak up against it. That's how a vote will magically fix that.

Also, shouldn't at least one side insist on abiding by the system? High ground, and so on.

#56 ::: colleen @ del rey ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2004, 04:03 PM:

Terry --

But can I at least give Dubbya a good strong poke in the eye with a sharpened stick? I promise not to actually kill him. :-)

#57 ::: Michael ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2004, 04:12 PM:

Um. It's supposed to make me feel better that our government thinks that profiling on the basis of one opportunistic tactic (giving a bomb to your girlfriend -- I suppose a really nasty way to break up?) is a good way to profile? Why don't they profile on, I dunno, people with curly hair? Hyuck -- they used them damn curly-headed people back in aught-7, it's just how they think!

Morons.

And I'm pretty sure Jill's fear wasn't that the serial killer had chosen who to scan, but that an opportunistic serial killer could have taken advantage of such a profiling strategy. And she's right. Not that I think there's a really high risk of serial killers being employed as airport security, but it goes to show that a blind faith in the fallible humans chosen to implement the harebrained scheme du jour is a mistake.

Erik: yes, a vote will fix it. The only reason the assholes have gotten so far is that they can still present their actions as protection of America, and they can still present America's actions abroad as fitting the heroic model we so love. It's all a matter of sales, which is why they inadvertently referred to a "product introduction" in the lead-up to war.

But that will only go so far. For the last, oh, three months, they've lost control over the nation's discourse. The American Public, Mr. Joe Sixpack, doesn't like feeling he's been had. There are two ways that can go: he can pretend he wasn't, lalalala I can't hear you -- which has worked for a couple of years -- or he can just say, screw this, let's string the guy up. Figuratively speaking.

So while I do occasionally get the sense of living in science fiction (having looked up an old friend -- successfully -- last week on Google, without actually knowing what country she's living in now, for instance, that was pretty mind-boggling) I simply don't believe we're heading towards dystopia.

But what the hell do I know? I'm clearly a Trader. And if the shit hits the fan, I'll be posting from Europe.

Patrick -- a Google on '"Tappan King" drug dealer spy' brings back nothing. And if it ain't online, it don't exist. Right? Right.

I do indeed believe you're right that the Bushies don't care whether you live or die. In fact, I'm increasingly of the opinion that they were fine with a terrorist attack, as long as they personally weren't affected. The PNAC plan pretty clearly called for a Pearl Harbor (and they sure did call it a Pearl Harbor damned quickly, so you can bet that the PNAC plan was what they'd been reading that week). What I think *did* surprise them was that they didn't expect the towers to fall down. They expected a large fire, sure, and a couple hundred deaths, enough to really get that whole Reichstag thing going, but a gaping hole in Manhattan? A fluke.

I'm not expressing my thought very well, so I'm going to stop. But as low as my opinion of the Bush Gang has been since they took office, it seems to be slipping lower. I'm enjoying the Clarke thing immensely, of course. Can't wait to see how the story comes out.

#58 ::: Bacchus ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2004, 04:18 PM:

As I don't often agree with Graydon, it's with some suprise I find I agree with almost everything in his first post except the hanging and the blood.

As an anarchocapitalist who despises the economic coercions of modern liberalism, I was prepared to cut the Bush administration a fair amount of slack, notwithstanding the extra-constitutional means by which it assumed power and despite the personal danger its social coercions pose to my rather-vigorously-excercised freedom of sexual expression.

Then the towers came down, and I knew we were in for it. When, as Graydon put it, "the Attorney-General of the United States started holding prisoners incommunicado without charge" it was merely confirmation, albeit a particularly bright-line confirmation that's hard to miss. I remain astounded by the ability of so many on the right to be untroubled by such an infamous hallmark of tyranny.

But what startled me was to find myself agreeing with:

"Capitalism becomes the iron boot of tyranny because that's what everyone is used to in their daily lives. It becomes as natural as breathing to submit and obey, to accept that one's life is intractably unjust, that others shall have the greater part of the profit of one's labour, and that the needs of faceless others are of inherently greater concern than your own good health and prosperity.

A farmer doesn't have to accept that; an employee does."

I've come to believe that being an employee is a highly undesireable state of affairs, precisely because it destroys freedom as Greydon describes. And I've taken strong measures (accepting semi-dire consequential economic results) to ensure that I'll never have to be an employee again.

I don't blame capitalism per se as Greydon does, and yet it's undeniably clear that being an employee in our culture-and-economy is not the matter of free choice it ought to be. It should be possible to demand the full measure of "the profit of one's labour" from one's employer, expecting it to take its profit from the productivity gains it creates through coordination of labor and capital on larger scales than an individual can manage.

In fact, that's not possible for most employees today. I blame regulation, not capitalism; but it's surely the case that corporate actors have unclean hands in this matter. Artificially restricting the economic opportunities of your employees lets you begin to tap into the profit of their labor and add it to your own honest profits. We see too much of that, and it truly does add up to tyranny.

But in the end, I don't think it takes rivers of blood to fix it. It simply takes people deciding to do what must be done to free themselves. Don't take a job unless it truly does pay you the full profits of your labor, plus a premium for putting up with your employeer's pointy-hairedness. If you can't find that job, find another way to live free without starving. Farming ain't what it used to be, but the world is full of opportunities if you'll think outside the box.

Screw the rivers of blood. Just find something better to do.

#59 ::: Jeremy Leader ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2004, 04:24 PM:

Umm, isn't the whole point of having "a system" that it be able to prevail over people who try to play outside it?

My feeling is that there are a lot of people who, for one reason or another, think the Bush bunch's flaws are less troubling than the their opponents'. The point of voting, participating as election judges, writing letters to the editor, and so on, is to highlight the flaws of the former group, and so tip the scales against them in the eyes of the undecided. Basically, keep people from being able to say "yeah, I voted for them because I wanted the tax breaks (or wanted to protect fetuses, or to fight excessive regulations, or whatever other interest Bush claims to support that month), and after all, I didn't know what crooks they were".

The trouble with military metaphors is that this is a life-long campaign; it's not just a matter of standing in the "shield wall" for a few hours, days, or even a few years of battle; we have to keep opposing the enemies of our democratic system for the rest of our lives.

The whole point to "a system", also known as civilization, is to make such long-running campaigns feasible.

Drama in a cause such as this can be inspiring, but an excess of drama can also be debilitating. As Patrick said, our immediate goal is not to make the world (or even our country) perfect; we're just trying to get rid of the bastards, so we can get back to our petty squabbles and compromises.

#60 ::: Alice Keezer ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2004, 05:15 PM:

So far, my husband and I have met 2 Bush supporters who have reasons they can state.

The first, a roleplaying friend, says he believes that Bush "will do the best job of upholding of the Constitution."

Yes, I know. We're working on it. We don't, after all, want to make him feel stupid or betrayed.

The second is a co-worker of my husband's. Says he thinks Bush has done a good job so far. He also doesn't watch the news, read the newspaper, or read any online news sources.

My husband says this is encouraging. I just gave him one of those looks. I'm sure most of you know the one. The "how can you be so naive?" look.

But then, I'm pretty sure that's why I married him. That naivete is usually a breath of fresh air. Except when it looks like dumb optimism.

#61 ::: David M. Hungerford III ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2004, 05:46 PM:

A good friend of mine is planning on voting for Bush right now on the grounds that his stupid ideas are less likely to make it past Congress and the courts than are Kerry's stupid ideas. This is at least plausible; the wild-card factor for me is that the next President is likely to be appointing one or two Supreme Court justices. Other damage can be fixed quickly; bad Supremes are a long-term Bad Thing.

Before this year, I'd never even considered the possibility of voting for a Democrat for President.... *sigh*


Dav2.718

#62 ::: Lis Riba ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2004, 05:53 PM:

A good friend of mine is planning on voting for Bush right now on the grounds that his stupid ideas are less likely to make it past Congress and the courts than are Kerry's stupid ideas. This is at least plausible

Why is it plausible. Since Congress and the president are both controlled by the same party, Bush's stupid ideas are being given free rein.

#63 ::: Graydon ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2004, 06:04 PM:

Jeremy --

The point to having a civilization is to be able to treat strangers as though they were from your village. You can trust them in business dealings, you can seek effective redress if they should wrong you, and you can collectively engage in all the kin-group, band-membership behaviours that are directly detrimental to one's immediate interest and indirectly beneficial to one's long term interest.

This works well if everyone belongs to the same system, the same civilization, but everyone doesn't. The usual examples are the folks (like migrant farm workers) who are excluded, the bottom of the social and economic strata, but that doesn't mean that you can't have either a competing civilization or a group that consciously don't believe they belong. (Which is true of many of the religiously motivated self-identifying elites, frex.)

So sometimes the other party to the dispute isn't part of, actively disdains and despises, the civilization you're part of.

That was true about the Light Danes and the Dark Danes attacking the Saxon Heptarchy; it's true about the thugs and the theocrats and the slavers for whom Mr. Bush is fronting.

Most of the time, partisan differences have no structural meaning at all. Things keep going. Life goes on. Populations and opinions receive political representation. Everyone is part of the same biggest thing.

This time, the folks holding power have already argued in a court of law that votes should not be counted because that might serve to obscure who had won the election.

That's not part of the same civilization.

#64 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2004, 06:10 PM:

Erik, you're my friend. Please reassure me that you're not calling for the violent overthrow of the United States government.

#65 ::: Hugh Sider ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2004, 07:05 PM:

I have a lot more faith in the system than Erik does, apparently.

We're quite lucky in the U.S., that we early on established a precedent for the peaceful change of regimes. This was demonstrated most recently when George H.W. Bush quietly went home to Texas, after losing to a man that the military almost universally hated.

Think that would happen in Haiti?

Our military are sworn to uphold the constitution. The officers I've had a chance to talk to take that oath seriously. This subtle fact may prove to be the keystone of our liberty.

#66 ::: Josh Jasper ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2004, 07:06 PM:

Before this year, I'd never even considered the possibility of voting for a Democrat for President.... *sigh*

Look at it this way, David: the Democrats have gotten more centrist over time. Perhaps there's hope for them yet.

#67 ::: Michael Weholt ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2004, 07:18 PM:

Heh. There I was over there to Electrolite sturmin' & drangin' over the Clarke thing, and then I find all the Clarke Kids over here in Making Light! I'll never get this blog thing. I am a blog maroon. Say, where's the X-No-Archive bit, anyway?

#68 ::: Erik V. Olson ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2004, 08:27 PM:

Erik, you're my friend. Please reassure me that you're not calling for the violent overthrow of the United States government.

I am not.

The US Government that many pretend still operates under Consitutional rules, has already been overthrown, by a ruling so foul and devoid of lawful basis that the court that made the ruling refuses to bind itself by that ruling.

They won.

But, since I'm delusional, I'll just go back to my fantasy land, the one where the administration lies on a daily basis, and never gets called on it, the one where the administration rams through wide ranging measures of spying against the citizens it claims to protect, the administration that invades a country that did not attack us, the administration that snatches people off the fields of combat (for example, the arrival hall at Chicago O'Hare International Airport) and detains them without charge or due process.

My, what a paranoid fantasy I live in!


#69 ::: David Bilek ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2004, 09:05 PM:

Funny, in the world I live in the administration gets called on its lies on a regular basis, the PATRIOT act was passed with widespread support among both parties with only one Senator voting against it (hardly "rammed through", eh?), and several cases regarding the government snatching people and holding them without due process are now before the Supreme Court.

I suspect the Court will overrule the administration and say that the government can't hold American citizens taken on American soil without due process.

As to Iraq, as much as I detest Bush lying about the WMDs, a large part of the American populace still (wrongly, IMO) supports that action. Blame the public as well as the Administration; the masses aren't exactly rising up in outrage.

So yes, I think you're being paranoid.

#70 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2004, 10:47 PM:

What a lot of bllsht on all sides.

Notwithstanding what Erik implies in his reply to her, Teresa never suggested he was "delusional." Nor would I say any such thing, either. In fact, notwithstanding David Bilek's imputations to the contrary, the things Erik is alarmed about are real things. If Bilek is going to start deploying the vocabulary of psychiatry to dismiss Erik's views, well, first, how very Soviet of him, and second, Bilek had better start in on me too, because in this I stand shoulder-to-shoulder with Erik, full stop.

While I object to Bilek's mischaracterization of Erik's views, I also object to Erik's mischaracterization of mine. "And you think a "vote" will magically fix that?" Why, no, I don't think a "vote" will magically fix everything, as I went to considerable fckng pains to explain, thank you very fckng much. And I am fckng unhappy that Erik seems to have fckng ignored what I went to a lot of fckng trouble to fckng say.

The point isn't that voting, or any other political action, amounts to a miracle cure. The point is that everything counts. Maybe we'll win and maybe we'll be ground into the dirt but gddmn t try everything. Most radically and dangerously, try hope.

#71 ::: Madeline ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2004, 01:08 AM:

Um, Patrick, maybe we should set up some big venting fans and send someone in (tied to a winch) to rescue you from the bullshit? I think the fumes might be going to your head...

(But, yes, I'm with you on the Everything Counts.)

#72 ::: David Bilek ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2004, 01:08 AM:

"Paranoid" has long since stopped being simply the language of psychiatry and has become a perfectly ordinary non-clinical English word. Y'r smrt ngh t knw tht, nd sspct y d. Bt f crs y'd rthr scr pnts wth yr h-s-clvr "Svt" nvctv.

"Quit assuming that you can win by following the rules. You will lose if you try.

Graydon's right. These people deserve to hang, and should have hung. We should have fought tooth, nail and blood before we let that man be sworn in as President.

We failed to do so. We lost *everything*. "

This is over-the-top and paranoid, in the non-technical ordinary sense of the word. And it will be even if you decide to call me "Soviet" a few more times.

nd hr thght ppl wr xggrtng whn thy sd y fld snt s y cld gt n th bll plpt t pntfct whl cntrllng th dscrs. wll hv t plgz t thm.

#73 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2004, 01:32 AM:

Erik, the sentences you're responding to are not the sentences I wrote.

David Bilek, there are some tropes I won't put up with, no matter who they're being used on.

#74 ::: Greg ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2004, 02:03 AM:

Wow. I am glad to see so many of my own thoughts reflected and voiced here, from the political idealist in me to the pragmatic liberal I try and be, right down to the tin-foil hat wearing wing-nut conspiracy voice. Excellent!

I am humbled by a prediction I made after the last election which was that at least with Bush we know what we're getting, and that I didn't think his handlers would let him go out on his own. I can admit when I'm wrong.

Frankly, the idea of this current administration getting a second term frightens me. I would have never expected them to be so grossly and blatantly dishonest, petty, and self-serving as a tactic to gain more power. Not that I expect sainthood from politicians as politics requires compromise, and that process today involves a degree of pettiness, dishonesty, and self-serving. But when an elected (however flawed the process may be) government in a democracy cannot compromise, when it harbors no dissent and can only resort to attacking the character and careers of those whom dare raise a voice against it, then it is no longer a democracy and those in power are no longer acting as elected officials but as proto-dictators, and are a hop, skip, and a emergency law away from destroying any vestigal traits of our Republic and the freedoms it should ideally afford us as citizens.

Meanwhile...

I been thinking of making a t-shirt which says "Gun Owning Liberal" on it, for fun, as I don't really have a desire to own a gun. I just think it would be a great thing to have at any protests or anything like that. Maybe with NRA hats, and membership cards too! Maybe, even as a liberal, I just enjoy razzing hippies too much.

And to think I used to work for Greenpeace :)

#75 ::: Greg ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2004, 02:11 AM:

Okay, I also admit I scrolled over the bickering bits.

#76 ::: Adrian Bedford ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2004, 06:43 AM:

Patrick, and anybody out there who might know--

Patrick suggested that one of the best things I could do that would help bring about a change in the US government would be to donate money to the Democratic Party.

Okay, this sounds good. My question is this: I'm Australian. Can a foreign national like me donate to a US political party?

If not, what would be a good way to help for someone over here? I'd really like to know.

Thanks.

#77 ::: Reimer Behrends ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2004, 06:58 AM:

Adrian asks: Can a foreign national like me donate to a US political party?

No. It's against the law. You must be a US citizen or a permanent resident. (And it's a good thing that there is such a law -- just think of Sir Henry Deterding.)

#78 ::: Erik V. Olson ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2004, 08:17 AM:

Teresa: Yes they are. The three word response stands. 'I am not.'

My qualifier was simple. Graydon was right. We should have fought then, in 2000, and not let an illegal government be seated, or died trying. We didn't.

The problem I have with your position? You've done what they told you to do in 2000. You've gotten over it. You accepted George Bush as the lawful president of the United States.

What this does is simple. It tells your enemy that stealing elections works.

My question to you.

When (and, to grant a point, if) the election is ignored and Bush is made president, what are you going to do?

Get over it? Again?

That's what liberals have been doing for twenty years. That's why Nader did so well in 2000. That's why groups like "Earth First!" have come about. That's why we've *lost*.

We've gotten over it. And they remember that.

They're tired of getting over it. They're tired of thier supposed allies gracefully submitting over and over and over and over.

All of you think that, if we just get the truth out, if we spend lots of money, if we work really hard, we can beat Bush in the election.

I'm stating that you cannot -- because you, as decent human beings, who belive in such abstracts as "honor" and "justice" and "the principle of law" will follow the rules.

They will not. Example: Rice will testify under oath. Rice will lie. Rice won't care, because, if it ever came to a trail for perjury, it'll run up to the SCOTUS, who'll discover some amazing new constitutional property that make prosecuting her unconstitutional.

Another: Want to sue Bush? Go ahead -- the SCOTUS says you can. How much you want to bet that gets revisted and overturned the moment it reaches the court.

Another: It takes two senators to blue slip a judicial nominee if the president is Republican, one if the president is Democratic.

Another: We redistrict after the census. Unless you're Republican, in which case, you redistrict when you take over the state government.

The Democratic response. 1) Oh well, we lose again. 2) We won't sue unless it's really critical, that's just wrong otherwise. 2) Oh well, we lose again. 3) Dramatic gesture, cave, then, oh well, we lose again.

The proper response. 1) Sue until we're blue in the face, then bring up every justice, every day, who overturns that right. 2) Same thing. 3) Vapor lock the Senate until the one slip rule returns. Yes, Daschle has *finally* said he'll do that. Thanks for three and a half years of caving. How very Democratic of you. 4) Redistricted in every state we could, to make sure the GOP never, ever got a seat in those states again, peiod.

And every time you say "Oh well" -- every time you get over it, they win one more tool to use against you in the future. Furthermore, it's a tool that you renounce.

This is like playing spades, but saying that actually playing trump isn't fair. No, it's like playing spades, when the other side keeps coming up with the king of spades, trick after trick, and not fighting over the fact that the standard deck has only one king of spades.

How many more people need to die over this, before you realize that they'll never get over it? They'll fight you, with every trick they have. And, should you win, they'll change the rules so they win. And, if they can't, they'll just attack you until they win anyway.

As I said. You look at the news about the polls as good news. The bad guys only care about the polls if they're winning. If they aren't, they'll just do something else to win.

Why, for example, hasn't Kerry, heir apparent of the so-called opposition, been beating Bush night and day over the Clarke revalations?

Because he's gotten over it.

There's a reason I supported Dean, and only Dean. Dean's anger was making people stand up and be ready to fight, when and if the worst comes.

Now? "Oh, well, we lose again."

#79 ::: Michael Weholt ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2004, 08:24 AM:

Adrian: yes, Reimer is correct.

Of course, what the Big Boys do -- you know, like The People's Thuggish Capitalism Republic of China (PTCRC) -- is find a friend who is a U.S. citizen and then they make an Innocent Gift to that friend. And then the friend makes a completely disconnected, public-spirited donation, coincidentally in that same amount, to a political entity that the PTCRC only *wishes* it could donate to.

That's what the Big Boys do. We shouldn't do what the Big Boys do. It would be Wrong.

I'm serious, actually. It would be wrong. Nevertheless, the Big Boys do it.

#80 ::: Michael Weholt ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2004, 08:40 AM:

Um... I feel a little bit like the guy who was at Yankee Stadium the night it was announced that Steinbrenner had been kicked out of baseball. Which is, in fact, the guy I am, since I *was* there that night and it was glorious.

I had the privilege of being around and actually being politically sentient when the last really great home run was hit out of the park by the forces of the Political Good. It wasn't the moment Nixon resigned; it was the moment the House Judiciary Committee voted to recommend impeachment.

On the outside, I was all grave and solemn and moved by the majesty of the Constitution and all that. On the inside, I'm like:

WEEEE WILLLLL WEEEE WILLLLL ***ROCK*** YOU!!!!

We can't all be Richard Clarke on "60 Minutes", but we can all be Richard Clarke slaving away for years in the bowels of the bureaucracy trying until it breaks our hearts to make things right.

I dunno. Maybe every generation needs a moment like I had where they experience the Political Good hitting it out of the park. Maybe every generation needs to be sitting there in the stands and, after all that cheering, after all that desperate hoping, after all that despair, after all those hot dogs you ate, you get to actually see that ball sailing out over the left field wall. Just so you know that it *can* happen.

Trouble is, those moments don't *just* happen. You gotta go to the park. You gotta scream your lungs out. You gotta get the people sitting around to get up off their asses and cheer too.

And then when it's all over and you've won the World Series, it's just over, is all. And by next Spring nobody is champion anymore. You got to start all over. You got to do it all over again.

I'd say the times we are living in now are *ripe* for this political generation to hit their own grand slam. I just don't understand all this hopelessness and despair.

#81 ::: David Moles ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2004, 09:08 AM:

Gosh, Erik, maybe we’d better just slit our wrists now.

#82 ::: Erik V. Olson ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2004, 09:30 AM:

Gosh, David, if you aren't willing to fight, maybe you should.

#83 ::: Adam Lipkin ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2004, 09:58 AM:

So how do you suggest fighting, then? You've offered nothing much besides bleak landscapes of political death and destruction.

My guess is, for the great majority of us, resource-wise, a vote (or, as Patrick [I think] suggested, a small donation) is the only way to fight back. We don't have the time or money to "sue until we're blue in the face."

#84 ::: colleen @ del rey ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2004, 10:12 AM:

These arguments remind me of how angry I recently became with my brother, who I somehow neglected to notice was a rabid fan of George W. Bush. I was frankly dumbfounded. We grew up in the same family, ate the same food, drank the same water, had similar life experiences [well, okay, he got married & spawned three kids but otherwise pretty similar]. How was it possible that my little brother -- the little brother who was a politically active liberal as a college student -- really believed all Dubbya's b*llsh*t, especially AFTER 9/11?

No matter what reading material or websites I direct him toward [including Teresa's & Patricks blogs] to educate himself, he refuses to see anything other than George W. Bush, National Hero. It's a kind of cultivated blindness, this denial of what our government has become and what worries me more is how many other otherwise-normal folks who used to think for themselves have jumped on the Bush bandwagon since 9/11.

#85 ::: Legomancer ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2004, 10:18 AM:

Why on earth would the administration look such a gift horse in the mouth? For them, September 11 wasn't a tragedy, it was Christmas morning, and they've been opening presents ever since. Without it, Bush would be just another weak, one-term floozy like his dad, a mere footnote. But with it, he's become the imperious leader, getting to do all kinds of crap nobody dares question for fear of aiding the terrorists.

I don't buy the conspiracy theories that BushCo organized the attck, and I don't even necessarily buy that they had sufficient warning and chose to do nothing. I think it's just as simple as not biting the hand that feeds you. If you're broke and see a $20 bill lying on the ground, you don't go looking to see how it got there, you just take it and spend it.

#86 ::: Lis Riba ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2004, 10:53 AM:

it was Christmas morning
Remember, Bush has frequently made the following joke:

"You know, when I was running for President, in Chicago, somebody said, would you ever have deficit spending? I said, only if we were at war, or only if we had a recession, or only if we had a national emergency. Never did I dream we'd hit the trifecta."
[Fact checkers have pointed out he never made any such statement before being elected. But it remains yet another tasteless example of the way the administration has benefitted from 9/11.]

#87 ::: Adrian Turtle ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2004, 10:56 AM:

The Australian Adrian asked if it would be legal for foreigners to contribute to US political parties. It isn't. However, it is perfectly legal for Australians to contribute to the American Civil Liberties Union (which is fighting the current administration through the court system) or Amnesty USA. That's the American branch of Amnesty International, which is currently opposing the administration about capital punishment (both in general, and as applied to minors and the mentally impaired), and about issues relating to prisoners of war.

Both organizations are working on other stuff as well, but those are some of the big issues where they might be able to make the current administration look bad enough to cost them votes.

#88 ::: jane yolen ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2004, 11:25 AM:

Patrick, thank you for this: "Most radically and dangerously, try hope."


Jane

#89 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2004, 11:30 AM:

Thank you, Michael Weholt. Hope it is!

#90 ::: Graydon ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2004, 11:46 AM:

Hope is essential, but hope is not a plan.

Hope and a plan, then you've got something.

#91 ::: Michelle ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2004, 12:11 PM:

I have two thoughts that I would like to add.

First, is that I'm not certain that Bush *truly* holds as much power as it is claimed he does, or that he has the ability to turn the election in his favor, despite actual results.

Congress is not yet without power, and the Supreme Court, despite the 2000 election fiasco... Well, I noticed that the impending retirement of Justices O'Connor and Renquist has yet to happen, a somewhat curious fact since their retirements have been seen as "any day now" for several years. (During the Clinton administration it was widely beleived that they were waiting until a Republican was elected so they could retire.)

I sometimes fear that the portrayal of the Bush administration is simply the opposite side of the coin of what the far right did to the Clintons. Remember the conspiracy theories about the Clintons killing people off? There were many more theories, and all were just as ridiculous. I would read and hear these theories and think "Jeesh! These people have gone off the deep end! There's no way that this could be true!" Yet these things were believed by reasonable people.

I fear that the left is now doing the same thing where the Bush administration is concerned.

I fear that we may have created in our imaginations a creature far worse than the reality, and assigned to this nightmare aspirations that are based far more in our worst fears than reality.

Don't get me wrong, I can't stand Bush, and I very much dislike his administration and think they have made many, many mistakes, but I don't think that they control the amount power that some say they do.

The second thought, particularly in response to Lincoln's suspension of habeas corpus, is the phrase inter arma silent leges. In times of war, laws are silent.

The US survived the Civil War, we survived WWII, we survived McCarthy.

Call me a naive optimist, but I believe that we can also survive Bush and run him out of office in eight months.

#92 ::: NelC ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2004, 12:39 PM:

"Praise the Lord, and pass the ammunition."

#93 ::: Jo Walton ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2004, 01:10 PM:

I'd have thought making votes count by getting votes counted was a pretty good plan at this point.

After the 2000 election people were saying things about reforming the methods of vote counting in various states. The only think I've heard about it since is the Diebold fiasco. I wonder if ballot design and vote counting for November is something individual Americans of goodwill could do something to improve at this point.

#94 ::: colleen @ del rey ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2004, 01:21 PM:

Speaking of fear in America, and Dubbya, I thought you guys might find this essay by Jane Smiley and James Squires interesting [From American Prospect].

#95 ::: John Sawers ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2004, 02:31 PM:

Adrian's post got me thinking. He says he reads a lot of blogs, mostly liberal, as do I. But it got me thinking about the internet and how it allows you to customize your news to such a degree that you can block out all other viewpoints but your own. It is terribly easy to avoid anybody talking about issues from a perspecitve with which you disagree.

I think it is good for critical thinking to hear what the other side has to say, often you will find thier positions assailable, but every so ofter you may discover that your own position is untenable. It seems intellectually dishonest not to seek these counterpoints. To that end, I'd like to know if any of you could point me to any well-written/well-reasoned conservative blogs. Obviously Rush Limbaugh doesn't count, but there must be a few intelligent and insightful people out there on the right.

#96 ::: John Sawers ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2004, 02:51 PM:

Adrian's post got me thinking. He says he reads a lot of blogs, mostly liberal, as do I. But it got me thinking about the internet and how it allows you to customize your news to such a degree that you can block out all other viewpoints but your own. It is terribly easy to avoid anybody talking about issues from a perspecitve with which you disagree.

I think it is good for critical thinking to hear what the other side has to say, often you will find thier positions assailable, but every so ofter you may discover that your own position is untenable. It seems intellectually dishonest not to seek these counterpoints. To that end, I'd like to know if any of you could point me to any well-written/well-reasoned conservative blogs. Obviously Rush Limbaugh doesn't count, but there must be a few intelligent and insightful people out there on the right.

#97 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2004, 03:06 PM:

It's a minority of the voting population in the USA which read blogs like Teresa's--a lot more people are out there listening to Infinity Broadcasting (part of Viacom/Paramount, and consisting of radio stations which once were CBS or Westinghouse) hearing the likes of Paul Harvey News twice a day while listening to traffic reports and news--traffic reports and weather reports are IMPORTANT to commuters, and commuters spend an hour or two or three every day on the road getting to/from work, and going to sports, picking up the kids, going to the shopping malls, etc. And what they hear is Paul Harvey News gloating about how loutish and incompentent and utter WRONG and unpatriotic the Democrats are, and how unamerican it is to question anything that Bush does, and how Kerry voted to raise gasoline prices seven times (lies...) and how life long heterosexual monogamy is God's Law and Paul Harvey is the purveyor of truth and the American Way...

And there are no contradictory voices allowed, no equal time for Democrats or Kerry supporters or Bush detractors, no syndicated twice a day program focusing on liberal goals, or moderate attitudes, or women other than the likes of Beverly LaHaye and her pressure groups of religious rightwing apocalyptic Christian extremists (few female syndicated shows at all, or talk shows, except for Oprah who is not involved in partisan politics or B. Smith at 3 AM on Monday mornings talking about lifestyles -- a kinder, gentler Martha Stewart, not someone who gets involved in political issues and partisan support and logrolling....).

Basically, Paul Harvey News is rightwing extremist partisan political logrolling, with no interest and no effort whatsoever on the networks which play it, to offer any time whateverso or support for voices which have other attitudes and opinons. It's a particularly abominable form of censorship and a nastier version of "freedom of the press belongs to the owners of the presses."

The ideal of media which supplies to the public -information- and keeps the editorializing on the editorial page, with the biases clearly marked, seems to to have gone the way of separation of Church and State-- the rightwing extremist evangelicals see their way as God's Truth and other ways as abomination, and separation of church and state doesn't exist to them--nobody -else's- religion should get any allowance, because theirs is The Truth, and God's Law supersedes secular government.

Bush seems to be one of those apocalyptic extremist Christians, or at least keeps very close company with quite a number of them. I mentioned Beverly LaHaye above -- she's the wife of Timothy LaHaye, who BELIEVES that Left Behind drek his name is on the cover of. The Rapture is coming to take him and his wife and their associates away, leaving behind the Unbelievers to come to accept LaHaye's apocalyptic view of the view and be Saved, or not accept his vision of Redemption and be tortured in hell for all eternity or something like that....

Visions of the universe like that, why would some True Believer care anything about global warming, the environment, the misery of everyone in North Korea except the career military and the politicians who head up the country, the misery in the horn of Africa other than than of Christians ministered to by evangelical Christians out Saving Souls....? And as for the Middle East, they support Israel because their vision is that the Jews going back to Jerusalem presages the Rapture.... It reads like appalling rotten fantasy, but that's what LaHaye and his associates and wife --the founder of Concerned Women of America-- -BELIEVE-.

And their propaganda and their buddies' propaganda is filling the US media as "news." LaHaye's books get lots of press and sell in high volume, and the more they sell the more attention they and LaHaye get, and rarely are there voices given prime time attention for disagreeing and saying that he's a flaming fruitcake whose visions violate everyone else's constitutional rights for freedom of religion....

I called up the local Infinity Broadcast station yesterday and complained about Paul Harvey News and its partisan politics and the lack of balanced coverage or opposing viewpoints. I called up Sen Kerry's office (I -am- a Massachusetts resident) and complained.

It's not going to do any good I'm afraid. I want Infinity Broadcasting shut down unless it either puts Paul Harvey off the air, or gives equal time for practiced speakers in syndication whose voices are opposites of Paul Harvey. And I want diversity in radio show programming -- there are no female talk show hosts on the local Infinity Broadcast station, and I suspect other stations, either, in the talk radio business. NPR is -not- an equal competitor, it;s on the FM dial, and is not a commercial entity, and it attempts to be fair. It is not practicing partisan politics and having syndicated shows which consistently sneer at one political party and its candidates and play jingoism for the 1950s fantasy universe of the vomitous Cleaver Family, wherein Mommy was a happy mollifying domestic slave with a totally vicarious life, girls were nonpeople, and the level of patriarchy might have offended an ancient Roman Pater Familias.


#98 ::: Michael Weholt ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2004, 03:32 PM:

I believe today is the debut of Air America.

#99 ::: colleen @ del rey ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2004, 03:34 PM:

I checked the Air America website and unfortunately it doesn't really AIR very much anywhere. The one station in New York that will carry it I can't seem to pick up.
Hopefully they will stream. [She said crossing her fingers.]

#100 ::: Jill Smith ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2004, 03:41 PM:

Air America's RealPlayer stream can be found here.

I had it up and running for about an hour.

#101 ::: colleen @ del rey ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2004, 03:47 PM:

Jill -- Thanks!!!

#102 ::: Jill Smith ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2004, 04:11 PM:

Colleen -- my pleasure.

#103 ::: msg ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2004, 04:54 PM:

Paula Lieberman-
Don't stop.
When I was 20, in college, Reagan was the governor of California, Richard Nixon was the US president, the loathesome and demonic Spiro Agnew his VP, and the war in Viet Nam had just hit its peak harvest of souls and lives.
The airwaves and the highways were full of buzzing hate-filled insects. Decent and joyful kids were being beaten and broken by dark-hearted creatures all around.
There were moments, many of them, when it seemed all we were doing was writing our names on the walls of the dungeon, and singing comfort to each other in the gloom.
And at the same time we were surrounded by the bright noise of complacent simple-minded folk going about the business of their daily lives.
-
It lightened up, briefly, for a little while in the 70's. And darkened considerably in the 80's.
And now here we are, here.
Oh boy oh boy.
I hear you, I think what you feel is accurate and also, right, and that it's a reflection of your moral integrity.
Don't stop.
Don't let 'em get ya.


#104 ::: Michael Weholt ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2004, 05:42 PM:

Heh. I've been listening to Air America. Can't remember the name of the host. That Liberal Lady from Florida. She just had Ralph Nadar on, and she just ripped him a new ***hole. It was pretty great, I have to say. Nadar slammed the phone down on her.

I might like this thing...

#105 ::: Mark ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2004, 09:34 PM:

John Sawers,

Dan Drezner
The Volokh Conspiracy
Obsidian Wings (Moe Lane and Sebastian Holsclaw)
Tacitus
Outside the Beltway (James Joyner)
Priorities and Frivolities (Robert Tagorda)
Oxblog
Virginia Postrel
Jim Henley
Eve Tushnet
Crescat Sententia
Tom Maguire

#106 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2004, 12:25 AM:


The bodies come back from Faluja
In the boxes the public can't see.
The jets land their burdens on tarmac,
No cameras allowed there to be.

The gag orders roll over oceans,
Cover lies spread all over the world
The bodies fly in from Faluja,
Past the poles with their flags all part-furled.

The flags spread out over the coffins
At funeral services and graveside,
The flags that flew over the Congress,
One hour on federal abide.

The graveyards go quiet in darkness,
With funeral services all done,
But bodies keep coming back over,
From Faluja when rises the sun.

#107 ::: Mary Messall ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2004, 10:08 AM:

"Don't get me wrong, I can't stand Bush, and I very much dislike his administration and think they have made many, many mistakes, but I don't think that they control the amount power that some say they do."

Michelle, takes the words out of my mouth.

Regarding where to find articulate conservative blogs and columnists: I know Orson Scott Card has made himself extra-unpopular lately, but I still like his columns at http://www.hatrack.com and http://www.ornery.org/ (where other people also post.) I read them for just this reason: to get insight into positions that I (mostly) disagree with. Likewise, I'm also still an admirer of Thomas Friedman (whose columns you can probably find in a local newspaper, or on any number of websites) in spite of being somewhat surprised and disappointed by his support of the Iraq war. P.J. O'Rourke is more economically than socially right-wing, I think, and I don't read his stuff regularly, but his books are funny, and fairly well-argued. You might find similar positions in the Wall Street Journal, though I don't read it often enough to recommend specific columnists. I'm in the same position regarding some religious newspapers. My mother subscribes to the National Catholic Register and Our Sunday Visitor, so I tend to read those when I'm visiting. It seems you can find material from both at http://www.catholic.net/. Finally, there's always http://www.townhall.com/. Lots and lots of conservative columnists, unfortunately mostly of the shrill or bombastic type that is likely to re-inforce one's prejudices.

In addition to all of those, I find it helps to read stuff from other countries: http://eurosavant.com/ and http://www.worldpressreview.org (the print edition of that is even better) for perspective. And it helps to read things written in other times, as well as other places. A few decades ago, *everyone* opposed ideas like gay marriage, and there was even more blind patriotism, with spikes near the big wars. Conservatives today really are fighting a rearguard action, however powerful they may presently seem. I don't see a nightmare dystopia if they win. I see the entire world having to relive the 1950s, with all current conflicts forced into a mold of the Cold War (the Korean War is a better metaphor, but it will no doubt stay forgotten). This is bad enough, certainly, but not apocalyptic. Or anyway, probably less apocalyptic than the last time around. Anyway, for a whimsical POV from the past, you could try this conservative political cartoonist:
http://orpheus.ucsd.edu/speccoll/dspolitic/Frame.htm

#108 ::: Lis Carey ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2004, 12:07 PM:

Jo, your comment about reforming vote-counting, yesterday:

With a good deal less national media attention than Diebold and their evil ilk, other localities have been dumping punch-card voting systems in favor of optical scanning systems--mark the ballot with black marker, feed it into an optical scanner for quick counting, but the voters can see that they've marked their ballots as they intended, and there are paper ballots for a recount if necessary. It's what my city and other places in Massachusetts have done, as well as jurisdictions in other states. for all the push for unverifiable computer voting, it's not the only system making headway.

Whether enough places are choosing paper ballots with optical scanners over Diebold and its ilk, though, I don't know.

#109 ::: Graydon ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2004, 12:57 PM:

Lis --

That kind of optical-count system is what Elections Canada uses, and all my experience of them has been good.

At the last municipal election in Toronto, one handed over one's face-down, 8.5 x 11 ballot, and the person running the machine placed it in the feeder; you then waited until the machine confirmed that it had read the ballot without difficulty. If read ok, the machine kicked it through to the ballot box; if it didn't, the machine spat it back, still face down, for you to fix.

The results of the election were available minutes after the polls closed.

Great system; simple, cheap, highly reliable, and verifiable.

#110 ::: Tim Walters ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2004, 01:06 PM:

San Francisco uses the optical system. It rocks.

#111 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2004, 02:30 PM:

Regarding where to find articulate conservative blogs and columnists: I know Orson Scott Card has made himself extra-unpopular lately, but I still like his columns at http://www.hatrack.com and http://www.ornery.org/ (where other people also post.) I read them for just this reason: to get insight into positions that I (mostly) disagree with.

Thanks for the link - His latest column is as well-written and thought-provoking as I could hope, much as I might disagree with him.

But is anyone else a little turned off by conservative columnists who refer to "The Left" as one big homogenous political entity? It may just be semantics, but as soon as I see it, my Grain-O-Saltmeter goes up a few ticks and my Straw Man Detector starts beeping. It seems a better strategy to refer to actual people that hold the opinions one is arguing against, even if all one can say is "Many liberal commentators have said..." rather than posit this imaginary nebulous unified Thing.

(Yes, I'm equally turned off by liberal columnists who refer to "The Right" as though it were one homogenous boogey man, too.)

#112 ::: Darius Bacon ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2004, 04:07 PM:

I wonder if ballot design and vote counting for November is something individual Americans of goodwill could do something to improve at this point.

The Verified Voting site has some good resources for that.

#113 ::: Vicki ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2004, 05:30 PM:

Erik--

I repeat the question. What are you going to do, since you're sure that what various other people are proposing isn't going to work? And, related to that, what do you suggest we do?

I don't have a time machine. I can't go back to 2000 and do anything about the last election. As far as I know, neither do you. (If you do, please stop by and I'll pack you some tea and cookies for the trip, and even discuss plans if you want.) The question at this point isn't What should we have done in November 2000? It's What should we do now, in April (and May and June and July and August and September and October and November) 2004?

I have no idea what the likelihood of success is, working within the system. But I know what the likelihood of success doing nothing is: zero. I therefore profoundly hope that you have something in mind, or in plan, that has a probability of success greater than that. If not, there's no point in trying to dissuade me from trying to work within the system, because the probability of success from that cannot be less than zero, and it's my time and energy on the table, not yours.

If you believe that the probability of success my way is zero, I won't expect you to work with me: but it harms you not at all for me to try.

#114 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2004, 05:46 PM:

The person at the top -doesn't- make a big difference?

I disagree--changes of commanders at the Air Force units I was in/at, sometimes made -enormous- differences, differences in the attitudes and performannce and willingness/even ability of people to things, differences in what they did, differences in whether they were -able- to show any initiative and come up with new/better ways of doing things, or -stomped- on if even trying to make a suggestion.... and those turn into differences that literally can mean the difference between life and death.

Usually the differences aren't huge--usually, not always. But sometimes they are very, very, very obvious. If the person at the top is a paraliterate shirker like Bush, who can't be bothered to go anywhere that's not a Big Political Photo Op, actively avoids reading newspapers or watching TV such that he is personally totally out of touch with what almost everyone -else- in the country besides narrow-minded close-minded don't-bother-me-with-anything-I-don't-want-to-be-notified-of is permeated in, it makes a big difference to the people below and what they feel of their concerns can get -through- to the person at the top, for the organization to react to/be concerned with/pay attention to/deal with. Bush has shut all the input off except for his personal syncophants...

I remember Chappie James (Gen. Daniel James) who went off flying in a supersonic F-106B (generals weren't allowed to fly single seat aircraft after lethal results...) the day before Christmas visiting fighter detachments (supersonic aircraft can get around the USA in a hurry) The fighter jocks felt -cared- about. Me, I was on duty in Cheyenne Mountain, which the General actually had a duty station in, but which he was never seen in except during a major NORAD exercise. The Mountain was only a few minutes away from the headquarters where his administrative office was--did he ever go up to the Mountain just before a holiday for a pep visit to the people who were stuck working when the rest of the world, including all but one or two fighter jets per detachment, were partying? Nope.... the morale in Cheyenne Mountain stunk-- and in the case of one of my bossses, that was literal. He went in the entrance to the buildings inside the Mountain by the one that took him past the stinky dumpsters "to properly get me in the mood for a shift" he said. He was so annoyed at the USAF he didn't tell Personnel that he was getting a doctorate in math.... He retired at the 26 year point that was mandatory retirement number of years for a lieutenant colonel--he didn't want the offer of a promotion to full colonel.

#115 ::: Therese ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2004, 05:59 PM:

I have said this before, in many fora, and as the US election approaches, I have a feeling I will say it again:

Thank God I live in a country with a good, working ballot system!

See the Election Authority's excellent page in English.

#116 ::: Randolph Fritz ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2004, 06:15 PM:

At the risk of entering this discussion late, and too tersely...

Most of the successful revolutions in history are the non-violent ones; the reality is, once revolutionaries start the mass public hangings, bloodlust usually takes over. The American Revolution was a very unusual case.

I have hope. But it is hope for a peaceful revolution, not a return to previous conditions; matters have been too transformed--by this technology among other factors--for that to be possible. Coming in the next two decades are: a transformation of the global banking system, the continuation of the Islamic/Middle Eastern/Central Asian conflict, enormous technical changes in just about everything, and global climate change--and all this without addressing anything the Bushies have done. We aren't going to be able return to anything; we are going to have to create a new normal.

Why is this preview producing double-line spaces at paragraph breaks? Oh, well...

#117 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2004, 11:10 PM:

Michael Weholt: The lady on Air America who tore Ralphie a new one was Randi Rhodes.

Based on what Ralphie said, he doesn't have a clue, and he's trying to once again put George in the White House. IOW, Miss Teresa needs to write and post Fck ff nd D, Rlph.

#118 ::: Lis Riba ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2004, 11:30 PM:

Somebody on DailyKos transcribed the whole Ralph Nader appearance.
Eventually, AAR is going to post audio archives of all their past shows, but they've been a bit overloaded lately.
In the blog for Majority Report (Janeane Garofalo's show), somebody from the company running the website posted

We've broken records people... We are Real Audio's #1 stream. We were at 50,000 streams during Al's show around 2:00 EST. We got 350,000 unique visitors from 8:00 last night to 2 this afternoon. That puts us on pace to be a top 50 site...on the entire web. We're talking Bank of America, Dell Computers numbers.
I've been listening to the network at home after work on streaming audio, and I'm liking what I'm hearing...

#119 ::: Michael Weholt ::: (view all by) ::: April 02, 2004, 06:51 AM:

James D. McD: thanks, I listened to Randi again yesterday.

She's great. Remember that scene in "The Miracle Worker" where Helen finally gets the concept of words? Listening to Randi feels sort of like that. The danger, of course, is that I will become addicted. I keep myself pretty well informed and I'd hate for things to get to the point to where I'm getting all my info from Air America. I mean, it's immensely entertaining, and a great relief, but it's not exactly, you know, Fair and Balanced. Thank gawd.

She was running the Ralph Nader thing over and over yesterday and continuing to go off on him. I have a feeling she will do it often. Go Randi.

#120 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: April 02, 2004, 10:25 AM:

Randolph Fritz writes:

...we are going to have to create a new normal.

I like this. It should go into the T-shirt thread.

#121 ::: Randolph Fritz ::: (view all by) ::: April 03, 2004, 02:01 AM:

...and one especially hopeful thing: there is no analog of Josef Stalin in the current situation. There is neither a well-organized powerful group devoted to splitting the left, nor a truly terrifying leader on the left. The enormously weakens the neo-conservative position; there is no monster on the left, so the neocons must lie to make it seem the left is a horror.

#122 ::: DM SHERWOOD ::: (view all by) ::: April 03, 2004, 05:53 AM:

PATRICK
Remember, the point isn't to build the new Jerusalem, crusade for utopia, or establish a libertarian paradise. The point is to get rid of these bastards and re-establish normal American politics, with all the usual compromises, dissemblings, backroom deals, and other moral misdemeanors that implies. All of which is one hell of an improvement on the rule of unfettered Might Makes Right, which is what we're on our way to right now.

I accept this which for an impractical idealist like me is quite a concession.

Richard Clarke seems like a moderately honest straightforward bloke. How the hell did he survive in his job over the years?

Speaking from the UK I'd say 'Don't Panic' most of the USA is no more corrupt than it ever was. Get Kerry in (he don't inthuse me but that's the impractical idealist speaking again)and the damage is undo-able. A Couple more Republican terms tho but you know that sorry to be redundant.

#123 ::: Epacris ::: (view all by) ::: April 03, 2004, 06:00 PM:

Colleen, the "Fear Factor" essay by Jane Smiley and James Squires from American Prospect (vol 15, iss 4) is slightly elusive. At the moment you have to go to the 'current issue' tab and find it listed there, at:
http://www.prospect.org/page.ww?section=root&name=ViewPrint&articleId=7374

This will probably change too.

Let me, from Australia, echo Adrian Bedford above.
But we also have to somehow get the news through to our fellow Australians, many of whom say "America saved us in WW II, so we need to back it whatever it does, so that it will save us again when we are attacked again". They also believe that Howard's government is protecting them (their families, Australia). I hear it again & again in the less 'liberal' media & on talkback. No matter what arguments you make or examples you give or problems you point out, it comes back over & over.

The ABC (BBC/NPR ish) is constantly castigated by them as being 'biased' and 'left-leaning', but strives to be 'fair and balanced' by airing the more-rightward views as well. Unfortunately, the press (mostly a Murdoch/Packer duopoly), commercial radio & commercial TV doesn't seem to feel the need to try to balance their tilt far the other way. At least the ABC is a reasonably large independent player, unlike 'public radio' in the USA, as I understand.

We also need to have an election by the first half of 2005 (time chosen by Prime Minister), and I fear that like 2001, what was seen as a good chance of victory by Labor can be trumped by beating up 'fear, uncertainty & doubt' along with racism & bigotry.

#124 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: April 04, 2004, 09:40 PM:

The Bush Bullies are out trying to suppress more damning testimony....

http://news.independent.co.uk/world/americas/story.jsp?story=507514

"'I saw papers that show US knew al-Qa'ida would attack cities with aeroplanes'
"Whistleblower the White House wants to silence speaks to The Independent
"By Andrew Buncombe in Washington
"02 April 2004


"A former translator for the FBI .... says she has provided information to the panel investigating the 11 September attacks which proves senior officials knew [months in advance] of al-Qa'ida's plans to attack the US....

"She said the claim by the National Security Adviser, Condoleezza Rice [otherwise] was "an outrageous lie".

"Sibel Edmonds said she [provided the commission with ] information that was circulating within the FBI in the spring and summer of 2001 ... The Bush administration [has put a gag order on her] citing the rarely used "state secrets privilege"...."

"... some senior US senators testified to her credibility in 2002 when she went public with separate allegations relating to alleged incompetence and corruption within the FBI's translation department."

#125 ::: Lenny Bailes ::: (view all by) ::: April 04, 2004, 10:01 PM:

I'm beginning to think that universities should offer a course called "The Pelican Brief;" but I'm not sure whether it should be organized by Journalism, Business, Poli-Sci, Philosophy, or English departments. I'm leaning toward the idea that it could be team-taught by profs from all of those disciplines, with the Grisham book as one optional reference text. Given the possibility of encountering big-time corruption on the part of top-level management in the workplace, how can you safely make this kind of stuff public and simultaneously defend yourself from legal or extra-legal threats?

#126 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: April 04, 2004, 10:13 PM:

One thing that everyone can do is buy a copy of Clarke's book and donate it to your local library.

#127 ::: Michael Weholt ::: (view all by) ::: April 04, 2004, 10:46 PM:

And I'm reading the John Dean book at the moment. It's turning out to be a very useful review (he calls it a polemic) of the lies, deceptions, and... would the word be stoneswalling or stonewallings? I know it would be stonewallings, but I like stoneswalling better. Wait. Did I just nounify?

And while reading Dean, I'm reminded... anybody hear anything lately about Dick Cheney's health? I sure haven't heard much. He must really be in the pink!

Not that his health is any of our business, of course. We're only looking to hire a Vice President.

#128 ::: mythago ::: (view all by) ::: April 05, 2004, 01:00 AM:

Grisham's book is bad fiction; why on earth offer it as a text on legal or corporate ethics? (I wonder what an ethics professor would make of the opening setpiece, where Our Heroine is having a covert affair with a law professor whose classes she is taking.)

#129 ::: Yonmei ::: (view all by) ::: April 06, 2004, 03:28 PM:

Just a note to add to Adrian's suggestion that us foreigners donate to the American Civil Liberties Union or Amnesty USA - I discovered when I sent the ACLU five bucks that they send the donor a nice letter back, airmail, which almost certainly ate up a significant chunk of the five bucks I'd dropped in their collecting tin. (And they did this even though I'd specifically asked them not to mail me.) I resolved then not to donate small amounts if this was their kneejerk reaction, as it appeared they could be losing money on the deal if I did. (But I agree it's a worthwhile cause to support, not least for the sake of the prisoners in Guantanamo Bay.)

#130 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: April 06, 2004, 07:21 PM:

Bush speaks in a stattaco hexameter, or it is heptameter? Whatever is it, he's one of the technically lousiest public speakers out there.

Hmm, now if the rightwing slime brigade were going after Bush, what would they do... spread rumors of him being homosexual probably [look at the tabloids that have Hilary Rodham Clinton as never-to-be-let-unattacked], go after Laura for her past unindicted act of vehicular homicide and spin excursion on that, point out their failures as parents with drunk and disorderly daughters.... there are those who think that attacking the Bushes via innuendo and caricature and satire is uncouth and out of bounds. I'd have thought so if they weren't so obviously unignorant beneficiaries of the right wing slime brigades's activities. There's the situation of knowing about someone's vile activities and benefitting from it and exploiting them, rather than discouraging the slimings and lies and innuendos and reputation besmirchings and dishonorable behavior. The ruse of keeping the slime brigade at a remove to say "my hands are clean and I have the high moral game" is a ruse. The term "plausible deniability" isn't plausible there, it's more like the see no evil monkey and hear no evil monkeys who know perfectly well that there's evil but they've arranged to make detours, cover their eyes, and plug up their ears so they can piously and hypocritically and ostentatiously proclain their innocence and lack of participation/collusion/knowledge.

But then, I never considered "ignorance" desirable or praiseworthy or a particularly worthy excuse for someone who had ample opportunity and incentive to not be ignorant, except as a political ploy....

#131 ::: Bill Blum ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2004, 11:10 PM:

Paula Lieberman wrote:
He was so annoyed at the USAF he didn't tell Personnel that he was getting a doctorate in math....

A lot of people at work seem to be getting more annoyed with the USAF personnel system-- it must be something in the base water supply (among many other things, I'm sure.)

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