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Tuesday, September 7, 2004day link 

 Framing and Politics
picture George Lakoff is a professor of cognitive linguistics who's specialty is dissecting "framing" in politics. Like, the ways in which conservatives and liberals position issues to support their respective moral worldviews. Brilliant man.
Language always comes with what is called "framing." Every word is defined relative to a conceptual framework. If you have something like "revolt," that implies a population that is being ruled unfairly, or assumes it is being ruled unfairly, and that they are throwing off their rulers, which would be considered a good thing. That's a frame.

If you then add the word "voter" in front of "revolt," you get a metaphorical meaning saying that the voters are the oppressed people, the governor is the oppressive ruler, that they have ousted him and this is a good thing and all things are good now. All of that comes up when you see a headline like "voter revolt" — something that most people read and never notice. But these things can be affected by reporters and very often, by the campaign people themselves.
He points out that conservatives generally seem to be better at these tricks than liberals. Read, republicans vs democrats. Lakoff recently wrote a book called "Don't Think of an Elephant: Know Your Values and Frame the Debate", and he wrote several others. There's a recent interview with him here and an older one here.
Q: Why do conservatives appear to be so much better at framing?

A: Because they've put billions of dollars into it. Over the last 30 years their think tanks have made a heavy investment in ideas and in language. In 1970, [Supreme Court Justice] Lewis Powell wrote a fateful memo to the National Chamber of Commerce saying that all of our best students are becoming anti-business because of the Vietnam War, and that we needed to do something about it. Powell's agenda included getting wealthy conservatives to set up professorships, setting up institutes on and off campus where intellectuals would write books from a conservative business perspective, and setting up think tanks. He outlined the whole thing in 1970. They set up the Heritage Foundation in 1973, and the Manhattan Institute after that. [There are many others, including the American Enterprise Institute and the Hoover Institute at Stanford, which date from the 1940s.]

And now, as the New York Times Magazine quoted Paul Weyrich, who started the Heritage Foundation, they have 1,500 conservative radio talk show hosts. They have a huge, very good operation, and they understand their own moral system. They understand what unites conservatives, and they understand how to talk about it, and they are constantly updating their research on how best to express their ideas.
Makes sense of course. Investing heavily in propaganda machinery and techniques. But the differences stick much deeper than that, to the basic world views that motivate the different kinds of behavior, and he explains that well too.
Q: Why haven't progressives done the same thing?

A: There's a systematic reason for that. You can see it in the way that conservative foundations and progressive foundations work. Conservative foundations give large block grants year after year to their think tanks. They say, 'Here's several million dollars, do what you need to do.' And basically, they build infrastructure, they build TV studios, hire intellectuals, set aside money to buy a lot of books to get them on the best-seller lists, hire research assistants for their intellectuals so they do well on TV, and hire agents to put them on TV. They do all of that. Why? Because the conservative moral system, which I analyzed in "Moral Politics," has as its highest value preserving and defending the "strict father" system itself. And that means building infrastructure. As businessmen, they know how to do this very well.

Meanwhile, liberals' conceptual system of the "nurturant parent" has as its highest value helping individuals who need help. The progressive foundations and donors give their money to a variety of grassroots organizations. They say, 'We're giving you $25,000, but don't waste a penny of it. Make sure it all goes to the cause, don't use it for administration, communication, infrastructure, or career development.' So there's actually a structural reason built into the worldviews that explains why conservatives have done better.
That's clear. He also provides good advice on how one might change things like that. In particular, being more knowledgable about frames and worldviews, and using them.
Q: You've said that progressives should never use the phrase "war on terror" — why?

A: There are two reasons for that. Let's start with "terror." Terror is a general state, and it's internal to a person. Terror is not the person we're fighting, the "terrorist." The word terror activates your fear, and fear activates the strict father model, which is what conservatives want. The "war on terror" is not about stopping you from being afraid, it's about making you afraid.
So, don't use your opponent's framing. And get beyond arguing about facts.
Frames trump facts. The facts alone will not set you free. You have to reframe the issues before the facts can become meaningful and powerful.
It matters rather little that the president is a bumbling semi-literate coke-head alcoholic with a criminal record who can hardly speak and who freezes under pressure, who spent hundreds of billions on a devastating war on false premises, plunged his country deeper into debt that anybody, and created an oppressive police state. Doesn't matter at all if the framing is expertly executed. What at least half the population is left with is an impression of a clear agenda and an ability to take decisive action. What a masterpiece.
[ | 2004-09-07 23:10 | 7 comments | PermaLink ]  More >

 Republican Concentration Camps
picture Below is a letter, from an e-mail, from a regular woman who's daughther was held for several days in a containment facility for temporary political prisoners, without access to telephones or legal representation. In New York. A facility run, apparently, by the Republican National Committee. The young lady made the mistake of walking though a park on a day when thousands of protesters were being rounded up and locked away, so that the Republican Convention could, eh, do its thing. Lots more of the kind from indymedia.

At the same time, the NYPD is testing its new long range sound weapon. Well, really it was made for violent mobs in Iraq. But, hey, works great for random people walking on the street in New York too. Some of them might be Democrats.

I'm increasingly glad I now live out here in the free world, in a place where one is allowed to demonstrate, with police protection, and where there are free elections and human rights.
[ | 2004-09-07 02:07 | 55 comments | PermaLink ]  More >


Tuesday, August 24, 2004day link 

 Dating Conservatives for Bush
picture
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I thought it was a joke at first, but no, ConservativeMatch is real. So, if you the range of your political horizon is Traditionalist, Very Conservative, Conservative or Moderate, then you might find your love here. It will also help matters greatly if none of you are very bright. On second thought, I'm not sure if it is wise to help you procreate, so maybe you should stay home and study the bible and watch Fox News instead.
[ | 2004-08-24 23:56 | 28 comments | PermaLink ]  More >

 A little porn is good for you
picture In Australia like many other places, prudish politicians have decided that they know what's best for people and are trying in various ways to outlaw pornography, or to install restrictive mechanisms to 'protect the children'. The trouble is of course that there's no particular factual or empirical basis for such policies. Its just what they somehow think is Right. Or, we could well say that the people who are proposing them have in one way or another developed their own perverted attitudes to sexuality and to children, which they're trying to make right by enforcing them on everybody else. It's an old story. You know, the awful sneaking suspicion that somebody somewhere is having a good time, and it's got to be stopped.

Anyway, much to their displeasure, apparently some Austrialian researchers have studied a lot of habitual porn users and found that they typically are more relaxed, less judgmental and have better marriages and families. And what about children?
Asked whether such results meant pornography was good for children, Dr McKee said: "I think you come there to an issue we can't answer - should children who are 16-years-old be allowed to be sexual?"
And who says 16-year olds are children? Nature certainly seems to have something else in mind. But a lot of governments try to stop it. In the U.S. you're in various important ways considered a child until you're 21. Big mistake to keep treating people as irresponsible idiots in those years where the most urgent and natural thing they need to learn is the opposite. Big mistake to think one can pretend sexuality out of existence with oppressive laws. Anyway, most kids I know are the result of people having had sex, and having had a very good time in the course of it. Trying to then enforce that sexuality or images of sexuality should be kept out of families at all costs sounds a bit off-the-wall. Sort of anti-family or something.
[ | 2004-08-24 23:23 | 33 comments | PermaLink ]  More >


Friday, July 16, 2004day link 

 Elections and Terrorism
picture Al Qaida couldn't dream of a better government in the U.S. than George Bush's. They're a splendid help in the direction of destroying the United States, in providing plenty of new places to have terrorist bases, and plenty of new well-motivated recruits. And Bush could sure use another terrorist attack to boost his ratings. Quite some win-win synergy there. So, what do you say are the chances for that happening before November? Or, even better, around the election itself? Bush's people seem to be planning for just that. Cancel the election, declare a national state of emergency, and just stay on as a dictator. That's a great plan.

It would be quite appropriate if the U.N. would monitor the U.S. elections, like a group of congress people proposed. The U.N. unfortunately said no. And the Bush government wouldn't have let them, of course. The system probably wouldn't stand up to any kind of organized scrutiny. You know, faulty voting machines without a paper trail, run by companies that support the Republican campaign. Plus the long list of other tricks and irregularities. The kind of stuff that Congress strikes from the record if somebody dares to mention it.

Anyway, just wanted to complain a bit. I'm no longer there, but the state of the U.S. unfortunately affects the rest of the world greatly.

Oh, and for something more to be freaked out about, Thomas mentions this story about a lady who believes she experienced a dry run for a terrorist attack on a plane, and the apparent inabilities for the system to respond well to that, because of rules for political correctness, etc. For example, an airline can't take aside more than two middle eastern people at a time, or they get big fines.
[ | 2004-07-16 19:51 | 14 comments | PermaLink ]  More >


Wednesday, June 23, 2004day link 

 Bush and Blair's secret island
picture If you wanted to hand over a set of nuclear missiles to a volatile middle-eastern government, where would you do it in suitable secrecy? The answer is the remote island of Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean. If you remember, that's where the Bush administration equipped Israel's submarines with nuclear armed harpoon missiles last year. story.

So, what if you wanted a place to quietly store top terrorists you had captured, being free to use any methods you can think of to squeeze information out of them? Including torture, drugs and hypnosis. Diego Garcia is again a good answer. Article here at Globe Intel.

What is convenient is for one thing that the island is very remote, and that its previous inhabitants have been forcefully removed, so there's nobody there to complain. But secondly it is that the island is a British colony. Apparently a key U.S. legal ruling states that violations of American statutes that prohibit torture, degrading treatment or violations of the Geneva Convention will not apply "if it can be argued that the detainees are formally in the custody of another country". Convenient, eh. So if these guys are housed by the British, the Americans don't have to play nice any longer.

A problem is of course that the British laws certainly don't either allow for using torture against bad people. Distribution of nuclear weapons is probably not particularly kosher either. Anyway, it is Tony Blair's problem, not George Bush's, as it is done on British soil. Could be an embarrassing situation if it got a lot of publicity. But so far they're getting away with it.
[ | 2004-06-23 10:52 | 16 comments | PermaLink ]  More >


Thursday, June 17, 2004day link 

 Ownership Society - members only
Via Wealth Bondage, here's this from the Cato Institute:
An ownership society is a society that values responsibility, liberty, and property. An ownership society empowers individuals by freeing them from dependence on government handouts and making them owners instead, in control of their own lives and destinies. In the ownership society, patients control their own health care, parents control their own children's education, and workers control their retirement savings.
Yes, too bad you don't qualify. What a chilling bunch of crappy double-speak. What it means is: This is why you have no healthcare insurance, why the public schools are enormously underfunded, and why the social security fund has been depleted years ago. It's because you're supposed to do all of those things yourself. Because that's what it means to be a free person: that the government isn't doing anything for you. If you pay for everything yourself, you're in control. I guess that's a particularly American illusion. Or a conservative political ideology, or whatever we'll call it. Pretty much from the same people who've increased the U.S. taxation and national debt and corporate welfare, orders of magnitude more than any of their democratic counterparts who were actually expected to do so. A couple of Republican presidents have succeeded more than any communist revolution would have. The reality of an ownership society unfortunately became that for 99% of the population, somebody else than you owns you and the output of your creativity and productivity.

If it were for real, it would be nice of course. I.e. that people can be in control of their own lives, and own what they do. And be responsible and free. But that requires real ownership and real freedom. Not just that the government takes half your money and doesn't give it back, and you're free to have a mortgage and buy a big car on credit, and that you just barely can afford your health insurance. No, rather real freedom and real democracy and ability to live by your own devices. Owning your own life. Co-owning society. Would be a nice idea.
[ | 2004-06-17 15:37 | 30 comments | PermaLink ]  More >


Thursday, June 3, 2004day link 

 Counting the Costs of the Drug War
picture A good article on alternet about the costs of the drug "war".
Each year, the U.S. government spends more than $30 billion on the drug war and arrests more than 1.5 million people on drug-related charges. More than 318,000 people are now behind bars in the U.S. for drug violations. This is more than the total number of people incarcerated for all crimes in the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Italy and Spain combined.
Well, I believe that the meaning of an action is the result that it gets. The purpose of the drug war is obviously to finance a multi-billion dollar criminal cartel, to make sure that the american population get unpredictable bad quality drugs, paying as much as possible for them, and it is to acquire hundreds of thousands of prison slaves who can work for the commercial prison industry for next to nothing.

If we even assumed it for a moment to be a worthwhile goal to inspire people to use fewer drugs, of the kind not manufactured by the pharmaceutical industry, then prohibition and criminalization has the worst possible record. In Holland, where one can freely buy hashis in coffeeshops, there are half as many cannabis users as in the United States, and Holland has amongst the lowest rates in the world of hard drug use, overdoses, drug crime, murders, and any other bad stuff that relates to drugs. See here, here, here or here. As several of these articles point out, the real studies are mostly forbidden reading in places like the U.S.

The drug war is a criminal scam. Its likely aim is the complete opposite of what it claims.
[ | 2004-06-03 15:24 | 29 comments | PermaLink ]  More >


Thursday, May 27, 2004day link 

 Gore's Speech
Al Gore gave a good speech:
George W. Bush promised us a foreign policy with humility. Instead, he has brought us humiliation in the eyes of the world.

He promised to "restore honor and integrity to the White House." Instead, he has brought deep dishonor to our country and built a durable reputation as the most dishonest President since Richard Nixon.

Honor? He decided not to honor the Geneva Convention. Just as he would not honor the United Nations, international treaties, the opinions of our allies, the role of Congress and the courts, or what Jefferson described as "a decent respect for the opinion of mankind." He did not honor the advice, experience and judgment of our military leaders in designing his invasion of Iraq. And now he will not honor our fallen dead by attending any funerals or even by permitting photos of their flag-draped coffins.

How did we get from September 12th , 2001, when a leading French newspaper ran a giant headline with the words "We Are All Americans Now" and when we had the good will and empathy of all the world -- to the horror that we all felt in witnessing the pictures of torture in Abu Ghraib.

To begin with, from its earliest days in power, this administration sought to radically destroy the foreign policy consensus that had guided America since the end of World War II. The long successful strategy of containment was abandoned in favor of the new strategy of "preemption." And what they meant by preemption was not the inherent right of any nation to act preemptively against an imminent threat to its national security, but rather an exotic new approach that asserted a unique and unilateral U.S. right to ignore international law wherever it wished to do so and take military action against any nation, even in circumstances where there was no imminent threat. All that is required, in the view of Bush's team is the mere assertion of a possible, future threat - and the assertion need be made by only one person, the President.

More disturbing still was their frequent use of the word "dominance" to describe their strategic goal, because an American policy of dominance is as repugnant to the rest of the world as the ugly dominance of the helpless, naked Iraqi prisoners has been to the American people. Dominance is as dominance does.

Dominance is not really a strategic policy or political philosophy at all. It is a seductive illusion that tempts the powerful to satiate their hunger for more power still by striking a Faustian bargain. And as always happens - sooner or later - to those who shake hands with the devil, they find out too late that what they have given up in the bargain is their soul.
Glad he gets himself together to say it as it is.
[ | 2004-05-27 15:10 | 32 comments | PermaLink ]  More >


Tuesday, May 4, 2004day link 

 Remember the WTC
picture It needs to be said once in a while, so that it doesn't stay swept under the carpet. The 9-11 WTC catastrophe wasn't properly investigated, and the reasons given for what happened do not particularly match the given facts, or for that matter, the laws of physics. A telling title of one of the many exposées on the net is "Muslims Suspend Laws of Physics!", which pretty much says it.
  • Burning jet fuel can not melt the kind of steel the WTC was made of. It isn't remotely hot enough, even if there's a lot of it. Nobody's been able to demonstrate anything different.
  • More than a month after the incident, while the debris was being removed, pools of molten steel were found in the basement of the two towers, where they connected with the bedrock. As well as under the collapsed WTC7 building. Again, burning jet fluid and office papers and collapsing buildings can not have caused that. At least not according to any currently known natural law.
  • Certain high-powered military incendiaries can do that. Thermite, it is called. It would have to have been placed in those basements, though.
  • Three buildings collapsed, despite that the two of them got hit in very different ways by planes, and the last one wasn't hit. Doesn't match anything that is known about the structure and stability of such buildings. For that matter, the two buildings hit did what they were expected to do, without structural damage. Until they suddenly collapsed.
  • Various engineers and demolition experts stated that it had all the signs of being controlled demolitions. Most of them withdrew their statements later, without much explanation for their change of mind.
  • Ironically, a company called "Controlled Demolition, Inc." was given the contract ...of cleaning up, presumably. They were the same people contracted for the Oklahoma federal building.
  • The recovered steel was shipped to China, very quickly, before any analysis was completed, of how the buildings might have collapsed.
  • The owner of the buildings prepared to cash in on his six weeks old insurance policy. (Although he just realized that he can only cash in the $3.5 billion policy once, rather than the twice he expected)
  • Somebody made a killing in the stock market on predicting the whole event, and you're asked to believe that it wasn't possible to find out who.
Just a bunch of wacky conspiracy theories? Who would benefit from such an incident? Who has the means? Osama bin Laden? Quite the planner he must be. To inspire the U.S. to turn itself into a paranoid police state that is making a mess out of the middle east and destabilizing the world? Doesn't add up.
[ | 2004-05-04 17:00 | 28 comments | PermaLink ]  More >


Sunday, May 2, 2004day link 

 Mutiny
picture Via Joi Ito, an article in The Guardian: "Mutiny is the only way out of Iraq's inferno":
The UN betrayed Iraq by becoming the political arm of US occupation. Now it must redeem itself

Can we please stop calling it a quagmire? The United States isn't mired in a bog in Iraq, or a marsh; it is free-falling off a cliff. The only question now is: who will follow the Bush clan off this precipice, and who will refuse to jump?

More and more are, thankfully, choosing the second option. The last month of US aggression in Iraq has inspired what can only be described as a mutiny: waves of soldiers, workers and politicians under the command of the US occupation authority suddenly refusing to follow orders and abandoning their posts. First Spain announced that it would withdraw its troops, then Honduras, Dominican Republic, Nicaragua and Kazakhstan. South Korean and Bulgarian troops were pulled back to their bases, while New Zealand is withdrawing its engineers. El Salvador, Norway, the Netherlands and Thailand will likely be next.

[...]

There is a way that the UN can redeem itself in Iraq: it could choose to join the mutiny, further isolating the United States. This would help to force Washington to hand over real power - ultimately to Iraqis, but first to a multilateral coalition that did not participate in the invasion and occupation and would have the credibility to oversee direct elections. This could work, but only through a process that fiercely protects Iraq's sovereignty.
Yes, it is George Bush's war, or the people who run him. There was no good reason for the war, and Iraqis are generally worse off than they were before. It doesn't get any better by shooting more at them. Stop playing along.
[ | 2004-05-02 20:42 | 18 comments | PermaLink ]  More >


Tuesday, April 27, 2004day link 

 CIA at work
picture Not entirely fair to catch the poor fellow like that, but this is just too priceless a screen capture to not pass it on. This is the director of the CIA explaining his strategy to the 9/11 Commission. I found it at JazzCafe.

[ | 2004-04-27 15:24 | 19 comments | PermaLink ]  More >


Wednesday, April 7, 2004day link 

 The War President
picture This is a photo mosaic of George W Bush, constructed of pictures of Americans who have died in Iraq since the same self-proclaimed "war president" entered office. I guess they didn't have time to include the 20 or so who died in the last 24 hours.
[ | 2004-04-07 15:25 | 17 comments | PermaLink ]  More >


Friday, March 26, 2004day link 

 FBI translator fails to shut up about 9-11 cover-up
Richard Clarke, former counter-terrorism chief in the U.S. is putting some stuff forward to the current 9-11 commission which is pretty devastating to the Bush administration. There's another story that doesn't get so many headlines. Sibel Edmonds was a Farsi and Turkish translator who worked for the FBI from Sept. 20, 2001 to March 2002. Government Executive magazine has this to say:
Edmonds said she was hired to retranslate material that was collected prior to Sept. 11 to determine if anything was missed in the translations that related to the plot. In her review, Edmonds said the documents clearly showed that the Sept. 11 hijackers were in the country and plotting to use airplanes as missiles. The documents also included information relating to their financial activities. Edmonds said she could not comment in detail because she has been under a Justice Department gag order since October 2002. Edmonds has testified before the Sept. 11 commission, the Senate Judiciary Committee and the Senate Select Intelligence Committee.
Seems she was basically bribed and then threatened to not talk about it. From tomflocco.com:
FBI translator, Sibel Edmonds, was offered a substantial raise and a full time job in order to not go public that she had been asked by the Department of Justice (DOJ) to retranslate and adjust the translations of [terrorist] subject intercepts that had been received before September 11, 2001 by the FBI and CIA.
Or, in her own words:
"Attorney General John Ashcroft told me 'he was invoking State Secret Privilege and National Security' when I told the FBI I wanted to go public with what I had translated from the pre 9-11 intercepts." [...]

"I appeared once on CBS 60 Minutes but I have been silenced by Mr. Ashcroft, the FBI follows me, and I was threatened with jail in 2002 if I went public"
Doesn't look good.

BoingBoing postings here and here.
[ | 2004-03-26 16:17 | 20 comments | PermaLink ]  More >

 Noam Chomsky blogging
picture Noam Chomsky has a blog now, called "Turning the Tide". And, as always, he speaks hard-hitting words about things he knows well about. Here's one sample:
What can we do about it? Just about everything.

The IMF is hardly more than a branch of the Treasury Department. Economist Jagdish Bhagwati, no radical, refers to the IMF- Treasury-Wall St complex that is a core part of de facto world government. The Treasury Department is part of the US government. If we had anything remotely resembling a democratic culture, actions of the government would be under the control of citizens, which would mean that citizens have to at the very least know something about them. And beyond that, we would have mechanisms to engage in political action. And in a more democratic society the third component, Wall St., would not exist in anything remotely like its present form, and what would exist would be under popular democratic control.

But any of this requires constructing the basis for democratic participation, which has been very badly eroded in the US, creating what's often called a "democratic deficit" when we refer to others -- in our own case, a huge democratic deficit.

People in the more civilized sectors of the world (what we call "the third world," or the "developing countries") often burst out laughing when they witness an election in which the choices are two men from very wealthy families with plenty of clout in the very narrow political system, who went to the same elite university and even joined the same secret society to be socialized into the manners and attitudes of the rulers, and who are able to participate in the election because they have massive funding from highly concentrated sectors of unaccountable power that cast over society the shadow called "politics," as John Dewey put it.

But it's up to us whether we want to tolerate this, and if we could begin to approach the level of democracy of, say, Brazil, we could do quite a lot about IMF conditionalities. And it doesn't happen by just showing up once every four years to participate in an "election".

[ | 2004-03-26 10:31 | 22 comments | PermaLink ]  More >


Friday, February 20, 2004day link 

 Funding tax cuts
picture Via Seeing the Forrest, from an AP News Story:
"Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan said Thursday that Congress should make President Bush's tax cuts permanent and cover the $1 trillion price by trimming future benefits in Social Security and other entitlement programs."
What a great idea. Particularly since the social security funds have long since been lent to the U.S. government and only exist in the form of bonds, and thus there would be less reason to ever pay them back.
[ | 2004-02-20 18:21 | 4 comments | PermaLink ]  More >

 Thanks for the memories
picture Via Sounding Circle, an excellent and scarey Flash Presentation by Eric Blumrich about the 40 year collaboration between the United States and Saddam Hussein, set to the nostalgic music of Bing Crosby. From his careful installation by the CIA, the ongoing military support, to the later clever set-ups for war, and his final "capture". Yeah, we (the U.S.) have always had him.
[ | 2004-02-20 18:21 | 9 comments | PermaLink ]  More >


Sunday, February 8, 2004day link 

 Blood Brothers
picture Via Scarlet Jewels, George Bush & John Kerry: Blood Brothers from wing.tv. Yeah, good conspiracy stuff that shouldn't be forgotten. Particularly now it looks like it is John Kerry who's going to be best positioned to be the Democrat contender for Bush's job.
Well, for starters, George Bush and John Kerry are both graduates of Yale University – that long-heralded bastion of the Eastern establishment. In addition, each of these men were members of Skull & Bones, the most exclusive secret society/fraternity in America, and prime breeding ground for the CIA and Council on Foreign Relations (CFR).

But wait; there’s more. John Kerry’s wife, Teresa, was formerly married to Pennsylvania Senator John Heinz. Guess what college he attended. Answer: Yale. And guess what notorious fraternity he pledged to. Skull & Bones! Now ask yourself: what are the odds that both presidential candidates went to the same school, belonged to the same secret society, and that one of their wives was married to TWO different Skull & Bonesmen? It’s infinitesimal … off the charts.
Well, I don't think she picked exactly at random. Anyway, this is not all weird speculation of course. Well documented and confirmed that both John Kerry and the two George Bushes and a whole bunch of other folks in powerful positions are Skull and Bones members. Kerry is just as much an insider, or a little more, actually, which is worrisome. Means, essentially, that the same people would stay in power.

Anyway, Bush was just interviewed for "Meet the Press" by Tim Russert, who did a rather fine job of bringing up the good questions. Which George W didn't have very good answers to. Like about deserting his National Guard duty. And he also managed to ask him about Skull and Bones. Transcript here.
[ | 2004-02-08 12:25 | 27 comments | PermaLink ]  More >

 Freedom of Thought
picture The Green Man:
"It is easier to have freedom of thought in a concentration camp than in America today."
"So said Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn. In 1970 he won the Nobel Prize for literature and is the author of a number of books that are insightful, both on the nature of the Russian political system and of the human psyche when placed in situations of extreme hardship. In 1974 he fled Russian persecution for the land of the free and the home of the brave. To his astonishment he discovered a land where freedom of thought was no greater than in Russia. There was a difference only in the nature of the restrictions on his freedom of thought not on the extent. Of course the natural response is to say "like it or leave it", that is, if he thinks it is so crook then leave (which is actually what he did, returning to his native Russia after the fall of communism.) Our friends, however, are not the ones that tell us what we want to hear, but those who tell us what we need to hear.

He made this statement many years ago. It is interesting to consider whether it is more or less appropriate today. Are we more or less able to question the behaviour of our country's respective leaders without being labelled UnAmerican/UnAustralian."
It is, unfortunately, even more appropriate today. Despite what many Americans would like to think, it was rather easier to think for yourself in a communist country. It would be much more clear what is government propaganda and what is your own thoughts.
[ | 2004-02-08 11:54 | 22 comments | PermaLink ]  More >


Friday, January 30, 2004day link 

 Oreo Budgets
picture A nice Flash presentation narrated by Ben Cohen, founder of Ben&Jerry's, done for TrueMajority.org, in which he explains, using Oreo cookies, the way that the U.S. federal budget is divided up, and how little rearrangement it would take to fund most of America's social programs. Simple and compelling.
[ | 2004-01-30 11:39 | 13 comments | PermaLink ]  More >



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