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Tom Coburn is a Big Fat Jerk


moonbat150


Home of the Barking Moonbat


 

Saturday, February 05, 2005

Who's funding the privatization plan?

Take a look.

Bush's biggest individual campaign contributors, in order of contribution:

1. Morgan Stanley  $600,480
2. Merrill Lynch   $580,004
3. PriceWaterhouseCoopers   $510,500
4. UBS Americas   $467,075
5. Goldman Sachs   $386,600
6. MBNA Corp   $354,350
7. Credit Suisse First Boston   $332,040
8. Lehman Brothers   $327,325
9. Citigroup Inc   $317,525
10. Bear Stearns   $308,150
11. Ernst & Young   $300,640
12. Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu   $289,45

I hope they throw the book at these people

Oh wait. I forgot. This is now US policy and sanctioned by this administration and its brainwashed syncophants.

Hang onto your hats

Via Progressive Blog Digest:

Economist <---- (take note of the qualification: Economist) Brad DeLong translates the gibberish for the rest of us: The CEA forecasts a stock market crash.

Now the whys and the wherefores of all this make absolutely no sense to me. And you can pretty much take your pick of the theories rumbling around out there to explain it, which range from the Evil Conspirators Bush and Cheney are Purposefully Triggering a New Depression theory to the Bush is So Stupid and Incompetent, His Brains Got Lost Up His Ass Where His Head's Been For The Last Fifty Years theory.

However, when I read something like this from a wellknown and respected economist:

When the CEA writes that "the stock return and economic growth assumptions [of the Bush administration] are not inconsistent," it is leaving out the logical next sentence. The logical next sentence is: "They are consistent if stock prices fall by more than three-fifths: from 60 down to 22 times current dividend levels."

I start making a list of all the goods I need to buy from the coop (flour, brown rice, whatever) and planning even more gardens out back.

Your future lies in heirloom seeds and lasagna gardening, I'm telling you people! And cut up those credit cards!

Osama captured

And he's looking a little crusty.

Ossie Davis

Steve Gilliard writes of Ossie Davis' passing:

Acting may have been his job, but his life was about serving his people, both blacks and New York. He never courted controversy, but he never shied away from the controversal. He was at home on the stage and next to everyone from Bayard Rustin to Al Sharpton. Unlike so many today, he didn't think politics was a bad thing. But he didn't wear them on his his sleeve like some, either.

In his passing, we can reflect how so many performers today are so cowardly. They only care about their money and their homes. Davis and his wife cared about the world around them, and his legacy of commitment, courage and support reflect a life well lived.


I never knew about Ossie Davis until that Burt Reynold's show, Evening Shade, I believe. I was a fascinated viewer of that show, in part because we have an Evening Shade here, but also because it was really a pretty funny show. At least if you're a hillbilly. Kind of like an all grown up Mayberry.

More important, however, is that, although I was unaware of all of Davis' activities, I was aware that political activism and acts of generosity and grassroots progressivism were simply a part of the general overall atmosphee, even in the worst of times. But that sure has changed.

Sure, my perspective is slanted because I rarely see television --- I can't get it out here unless I want to put up a satellite dish bigger than my home [an old redneck stereotype which is absolutely true]. And when I do see it, I'm horrified by what those people look like. They're emaciated. Nipped and tucked and siliconed and hairdoed and implanted until they're not even human. 30 year olds who look 65 because everything's been pinned up so tightly.

They don't *do* activism. I'm not sure they even have the ability to comprehend what's happening in this world or to understand what extraordinary times these are.

I think I took the Ossie Davises a bit too much for granted. But not anymore. Yes he lived a good life. But his passing signifies the loss of yet one more shaper of a landscape which we are now seeing destroyed.

What weather phenomenon are you?

According to the "What Weather Phenomenon am I?" quiz, I'm a tornado. Unfortunately the picture of me as a tornado is too big for the blog, so you'll just have to go over there and test out as a tornado yourself to see it.

Friday, February 04, 2005

Bush’s former professor says he’s not qualified to be president

Like this is any surprise? Unceremoniously and shamelessly lifted from Rob's Blog:

A former teacher of U.S. President George Bush on Friday questioned his qualifications as president in an address to foreign reporters in Japan.

"I always remember two groups of students. One is the really good students, not only intelligent, but with leadership qualities, courage. The other is the total opposite, unfortunately to which George belonged."

"President Bush can no longer be reelected on the basis of his - quote unquote - leadership," Tsurumi, who was Bush’s professor at Harvard Business School, told his audience in reference to November’s presidential election in the United States.

He recalled a conversation with Bush when he met him soon after he arrived at Harvard.

"I asked him, ’What have you been doing ? How about Vietnam ?’ and he said, ’Well, I’ve been in the National Guard in Texas.’ I said, ’How did you get that ? There’s a 10-year waiting list.’ And he said, ’Well, my dad has connections."’

"In my class, he (Bush) declared that ’people are poor because they are lazy.’ He was opposed to labor unions, social security, environmental protection, Medicare and public schools. To him, Franklin D Roosevelt’s New Deal was ’socialism,"’ Tsurumi said.

Thursday, February 03, 2005

Trouble and Woe for the Blog Template

I just looked at the blog using Internet Explorer, and gack! It's an entirely different animal than what it is on Safari (the browser I usually use).

But it's late and I won't be able to fix it until tomorrow afternoon.

My apologies, especially to those of you having to use a magnifying glass to read the posts.

Gack! What have I done?

My email to Joe Lieberman

Contact him here.

Mr Lieberman: [I refuse to call him Senator]

I may not be a resident of Connecticut. I will, however, be joining thousands and thousands of other Democrats in funding your opposition in the next election.

I will be doing so because you are not a Democrat. Instead, you have thrown your lot in with the pro-torture Republicans, sharing with them and validating the *moral* values of sado-masochistic rape, dehumanization and torture.

I am not simply saddened by your betrayal of Democratic and American ideals --- I am disgusted.

This is a dark day for America and for Democracy.

My Name, A Proud and True Democrat

Doodling around with the template

I've actually managed to finish all my grading --- meaning no grading over the weekend and light grading next week consisting of a thoroughly insipid quiz I give to all my classes this time of the semester merely to separate the wheat from the jive-ass slackers. After which my grading load should be much, much lighter --- although it may take a midterm whammy to really clear things out.

I actually like my students --- really I do! But I despise grading, so the more I can boot to the curb, the happier I am.

Rather than using this windfall of time to attend to the tasks piling up around me, however, I'm going to doodle with the blog. I figure I put nice new shower heads on both showers today which took me two days because I had to take them apart to get out the water saver device and forgot how to put them back together, so I've done one major and troubling household task already today. Even though I should be caulking or finishing painting at least one of the rooms I have halfway painted.

But I'm going to doodle with the blog instead. And maybe do some Googling to see if I can determine why one of the large hairy beasts takes such pleasure in standing over his foodbowl and alternately howling and barking.

I'll be back later with some whackjob Christian information. See, I've managed to crack a subterranean network of cracked Militant Christians, thanks to a post I found this morning on Orcinus. Holy cow! They're making no bones about being the Christian Taliban either. What a bunch of crackpots. Worse, just like I anticipated upon its initial release, they're scamming off Lord of the Rings imagery.

Just think, these fruitcakes are now running the country.

In response to various commentary, the SOTU ...

... and bits of news here and there, I'm busy slashing my budget, while counting my lucky stars I have very, very little in the stock market and I own my place lock, stock and barrel. My oldest brother isn't so lucky, however --- if I'm not mistaken, he has everything in the stock market.

If he weren't my older brother, I'd forward him this little piece of analysis from Brad Delong:

[...] from 1871 to 2003, the average one-year-ahead real return on stocks--the Cowles index linked to the S&P Composite--averaged 8.39% per year [...] Today the stock market's earnings yield is 4%.

And what about our current variety of private accounts? According to CBS MarketWatch:

Research shows that while a good percentage of participants have done a decent job managing their 401(k) portfolios, a significant portion has made mistakes at every step along the way, from not diversifying to neglecting to monitor their investments [...] the three-year bear market showed just how costly those mistakes can be, and many workers are still trying to dig themselves out [...] Over the three-year bear market ending in 2002, about 70 percent of all participants lost money, with nearly half of all participants losing more than 20 percent.

On the bright side, over the three-year bear market the median participant's investments declined 6.3 percent per year, while the stock market as measured by the S&P 500 lost 14.6 percent. But as some observers have pointed out, workers cannot retire on relative performance.

When Vanguard looked at the performance of retirement plan participants more recently in June 2004, the portfolio of the mean participant had gained only 2.7 percent annually over the previous five years, just barely keeping pace with inflation.


Hmmm. Not very reassuring. And odd that, in the SOTU, there is no mention of lower yields and the rather pitiful state of 401(k)s for such a large number of people. In fact, problems such as these are not simply specifically ignored in the SOTU, but contradicted.

Why might that be, do you think?

And the cognitive dissonance doesn't stop there. In fact, it goes even further:

[...]  Bush failed to acknowledge the extent to which benefits will be cut, debt will be increased and whether the Republican privatization plan will increase the long-term solvency of the program.

[...] Bush Failed to Address Benefit Cuts:  Tonight Bush said, "Your money will grow, over time, at a greater rate than anything the current system can deliver - and your account will provide money for retirement over and above the check you will receive from Social Security." But, CBO Says Bush's Plan Will Cut Benefits by 45 Percent or More for Seniors [...] Bush Failed to Address Increases in Debt [...] But, The President's Plan Adds Over $4.5 Trillion in Debt [...]  Bush Failed to Address Social Security's Long-Term Solvency [...] But, a Senior Administration Official Admitted the Plan Does Nothing to Address Solvency.


Disinformation? Doubletalk? Propaganda? Stupidity and amorality? Why all the lies and evasions?

Could it be that Bush and Halliburton want to plunder Social Security to pay their bills?

You tell me.

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

Liveblogging SOTU at Cookie's

6:55 While chopping broccoli for a perfectly delectable Thai curry that I was planning to eat while checking out the livebloggers, I notice water streaming from the laundry room.

The washer, packed with large hairy four-legged creature beds, overflowed.

7:17 Trapped behind the washer with a large yellow towel and a smaller, but more absorbent, sage green towel, I look up and discover I have managed to yank the thing that has the faucets and the outlet right out of the wall.

7:19 I climb up over the washer, wishing I still smoked.

7:20 I let the dogs out and notice what looks like an ambulance about a quarter of a mile down the road. Given my neighbors have been dropping like flies here lately, I switch off all the lights and hide in the window to see which road the ambulance takes. Upon closer examination, it appears someone is getting a new sofa.

7:22 I let the dogs back in.

7:24 I climb back behind the washer and yank the thing that the water goes out of out of the thing it goes into to make the water go elsewhere. I look in it and can't see anything.

7:29 I climb back over the washer and push it back against the wall, but decide maybe now isn't the time to do laundry. One of the large hairy beasts begins squealing, followed by a stampede for the door.

7:30 I decide to caulk but take a little stroll through the blogosphere first. Upon arriving at Kos (where I am obsessively rating one fellow with 2's because he keeps giving the BEST posts 3s and giving perfectly annoyingly anal retentive and passive aggressive reasons for this annoying behavior), I discover I am now a Trusted User. That means I can give someone a 0! I spend a couple minutes looking for someone to troll rate.

7:35 The large hairy beasts start squealing and yipping. I let them in and give them stalks of broccoli. They do their large hairy creature victory dances around the place with their broccoli stalks.

7:40 I decide to liveblog my life while trying to find someone liveblogging the SOTU.

7:44 The delectable Thai curry is done. I notice there are ladybugs on the ceiling and spend a moment pondering whether to squash them or liberate them.

Wednesday Evening pre-SOTU Anti-Snark

Okay, so admittedly, I am positively distraught over the look of the blog right now. Much of my distress is over the necessary STOP GONZALES! banner at top --- and yes, I'm aware there's greater morality and value to posting the banner than to worrying over color coordination.

But still --- it clashes. And I'll grant you, that's likely the point of the design. You know, something like:

Torture is ugly ---> Gonzales' and the Bushinistas' motivations are beyond ugly ---> therefore, torturously ugly banner.

In any case, a little earlier, I managed to contain my raging case of snarkiness over the present condition of the blog (could it BE any uglier???) and shot off a very civil and contained and logical plea to Ken Salazar to vote against confirmation of The Evil Abu.

I urge all of you to do the same.

You can contact him through his Senate website. Do it now before you watch the SOTU and get yourself in as big a snit as I am over the blog.

Liveblogging the State of the Union Address

There is No Crisis is keeping a running list of people liveblogging the SOTU.

There are times I'm glad I can't get television reception back here. This is one of those times. I'd probably empty the refrigerator on the tv screen before the evening was over.

I will be watching the livebloggers, however.

Steve Gilliard on Ward Churchill

Steve Gilliard has posted another perspective on Ward Churchill, and a good one.

Fake leftist outrage. The people who worked in the World Trade Center didn't make US policy towards Iraq, and they sure weren't killed for that.

Freedom of speech is the right to say what you think. It is not the unfettered right to go without vigorous criticism.


Agreed on all points.

Coming to New York, discussing 9/11, and referring to the victims, which included the children and grandchildren of Holocaust survivors, as Eichmanns, is both stupid and intellectually braindead. Because it is cheap language without thought or meaning. It is language meant to outrage, not inform or educate. What were the Pakistani immigrants who died there, people most likely people who had no role in the formulation of US policy?

Agreed again.

People who don't live in New York have no idea how raw 9/11 still is. Casual comments about 3,000 dead people will not go over well here. Especially when the comments are so ill-informed and offensive.

The nature of my own outrage differs, but I am in fundamental agreement. Churchill has dishonored and betrayed many of the people I know here, while simultaneously depending on (plundering) them for authenticity. He isn't their representative, nor is he even in any way familiar with these mountaineers of the south.

UC-Boulder, however, also shares blame in this by being so anxious to grant authenticity to their Ethnic Studies program that they would hire a poseur. More often than not, I suspect the real thing is just too much trouble for these academics.

In any case, Gilliard's posting on the topic is worth a read.

All Praise to the Thunder Beings and Forest Sprites!

It snowed last night, just enough that it was reasonable for me to cancel my classes.

Even though the roads are absolutely clear.

But still --- this is Oklahoma and the very sight of the stuff is enough to paralyze the region for days on end.

My very last thoughts last night were 'Maybe it will snow and I can stay home and putz and look at cisterns online and maybe even finish painting that bathroom.'

All Praise to the Thunder Beings and Forest Sprites and Ghosts in the Machine!

My prayers have been answered!

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

The Evil Abu

Read it.

Not simply the memos, but:

In listening to their self-absorbed, self-delusional speeches and comments, it is astonishing to watch figures like Specter and Hatch (much less Gonzales and Rumsfeld, before them) balance on the end of this pin. And yet the arguments spiral to ever-greater heights of self-contradiction, non-sequitur, and outright, unapologetic denial.

Pretty accurate characterization.

Curbing Dissent

Hopefully, someone with a lot more time and a lot more influence than me will pick up the ball and run with this one.

This is serious.

Kevin Drum notes Andrew Sullivan's dismay over the final paragraph of an article by Fred Barnes:

It isn't just the final paragraph, however.

The subtitle itself (repeated in the text) says it all: The media tolerate or even encourage Democratic rage. But the White House can't afford to.

Oh really? And so Barnes cautions [s]tronger countermeasures will be needed, including [...] a clear delineation of what's permissible and what's out of bounds in dissent on Iraq.

OH REALLY? And how is that any different than the tactics used by fascists to stifle dissent and further disinformation?

And for what purpose?

quote from link above: [...] solely for the benefit of the conservative movement and its agenda -- an agenda that, at its core, is profoundly anti-democratic.

I will be writing a letter to the Standard in response to Barnes' idiotic and dangerous contention. There needs to be a swell of outrage, however.

Don't let them get away with this.

And by the way: Zionist Occupied Govt, Anti-Semitism, Etc.

If you're a teacher or in some other kind of a job where you're in a position to openly discuss anti-Semitism and all the wingnut conspiracy theories floating around, now is the time to do it.

A subterranean strain of anti-Semitic, white supremacist movements is in the process of going mainstream. Of course, you can guess why this is happening, given the Bushinistas have legitimized hatred in all its gory [*l* intentionally deleted].

Note, for example, recent posts by Seeing the Forest and Orcinus, not to mention, the coopting-to-the-wingnuts behavior of the Bush administration and Cheney.

I use every opportunity to talk with (not at, with) my students about this stuff. The trick is to position it as a matter of free and intelligent choice, and never to lecture, but simply dissemble the radicals' arguments and positions. I make sure to leave the door wide open so the students can make their own minds up --- often, they're tending to these beliefs simply because they don't know any better and not as a matter of actual, conscious choice.

In case you hadn't noticed ..

I'm doodling around with the blog, trying to get things moved around, colors changed, all that.

I'm especially determined to get the blog to match the anti-Evil Abu banner above. Plus I like the idea of using blue or another color to differentiate others' words from my own --- but I don't quite have the color down.

This might take a day or so --- I know it will because I have grading to do --- so bear with me while the blog permutates ;=) into a more comfortable form.

Monday, January 31, 2005

Orcinus on Fascism

Orcinus' series on fascism closes with these words:

Recognizing what we are up against -- namely, a kind of fascism -- is critical to dealing effectively with it, because even if wielding the term in discourse can be unhelpful (it remains a loaded term easily misinterpreted), this model gives us a key to understanding the thought -- or rather, emotive -- processes that are the core of the pseudo-fascist appeal.

Which is why I keep posting about fascism.

Our dilemma (if it could be called such) isn't that we are in danger of fascism --- it is that we are there. The people running this country are fascists. Their tactics and their intentions and their ideologies are fascist. The takeover is nearly complete and there's no useful point in characterizing what's happening as anything other than what it is.

Orcinus notes that although Classical fascism is dead, the ideology remains alive. It is an especially poisonous ideology that:

[...] grows and adapts to its circumstances [...] Fascism always wraps itself in the flag, always seeks absolute power, always brands opponents as traitors, always relies heavily on propaganda for dissemination of its ideas, always invokes subversive enemies (at home and abroad), always embraces militarism and permanent war, always favors politicizing of police functions (and expanding them and the surveillance state), always scorns intellectuals, artists, and bourgeois democratic values, always is hostile to leftist and labor movements, and is obsessed with idealized images of a mythic "better time" of the past (while at the same time destroying that past, and the nation as a whole).

It is important that we all familiarize ourselves with the traits of fascism, even those of us who are less than convinced.

It took me a while to believe this administration was anything other than a particularly noxious bunch of pissed off sanctimonious horny old white dudes. But their behavior in the months running up to the invasion of Iraq convinced me.

I knew we were under a massive campaign to traumatize and brainwash the entire country so that we would all be so rattled that we would be unable to react. When a friend said we were under psy-ops, I couldn't disagree. But I still wasn't sure what was going on.

The reaction of the radicals to my protests sealed the bargain from me. I didn't yet call them fascists because I'm a political idiot --- I had no idea if that was even the proper way to describe them.

I know now that it is. They're fascists.

Orcinus explains:

[...] propaganda succeeds by taking advantage of the public's limited ability to absorb all the details of the often complex problems that confront modern society. As Anthony Pratkanis and Elliot Aroson explained [...] "Given our finite ability to process information, we often adopt the strategies of the peripheral route for simplifying complex problems; we mindlessly accept a conclusion or proposition -- not for any good reason but because it is accompanied by a simplistic persuasive device."

[...]

Back in the 1930s, the short-lived Institute for Propaganda Analysis came up with the seminal catalog of [...] propaganda techniques are:

-- Name Calling, or hanging a bad label on ideas or persons.
-- Card Stacking, or the selective use of facts or outright falsehoods.
-- Band Wagon, or claiming that everyone like us thinks this way.
-- Testimonial, or the association of a respected or hated person with an approved or despised idea, respectively.
-- Plain Folks, a technique whereby the idea and its proponents are linked to "people just like you and me."
-- Transfer, or an assertion of a connection between something valued or hated and the idea or commodity being discussed.
-- Glittering Generality, or an association of something with a "virtue word" to gain approval without examining the evidence.


I have been witness to (and victim of) all of these tactics over and over again over the past few years.

Orcinus notes what has been happening has " ... all the earmarks of psychological warfare."

He goes on to delineate the work of Christopher Simpson, who "...describes in detail the often secretive development of [psychological warfare].

The point?

a. destroy the will and the ability of the enemy to fight;
b. deprive him of the support of his allies and neutrals;
c. increase in our own troops and allies the will to victory.

Psychological warfare employs any weapon to influence the mind of the enemy. The weapons are psychological only in the effect they produce and not because of the nature of the weapons themselves. In this light, overt (white), covert (black), and gray propaganda; subversion; sabotage, special operations; guerrilla warfare; espionage; political, cultural, economic, and racial pressures are all effective weapons. They are effective because they produce dissension, distrust, fear and hopelessness in the minds of the enemy, not because they originate in the psyche of propaganda or psychological warfare agencies.

Simpson goes on to explain that psychological warfare and psychological operations encompass this range of activities, as specified by the Army and the National Security Council. Several points should be underlined. First, psychological warfare in the U.S. conception has consistently made use of a wide range of violence, including guerrilla warfare, assassination, sabotage, and, more fundamentally, the maintenance of manifestly brutal regimes in client states abroad. Second, it also has involved a variety of propaganda or media work, ranging from overt (white) newscasting to covert (black) propaganda. Third, the targets of U.S. psychological warfare were not only the "enemy," but also the people of the United States and its allies.


This isn't even a basic summary of Orcinus' series, but there are critters to feed, papers to grade and dishes to wash. And it's a start.

Information is power. Arm yourself.

More tomorrow ...

Complaining

I have a friend who, for as long as I've known her, has complained about everything. I suspect she easily ranks among world class complainers --- last night, for example, she caught me on the phone and started in on her litany of complaints and didn't stop for two and a half hours.

You read that right: two and a half hours.

See, I timed her. I hardly uttered a word the whole time and simply kept the phone tucked under my ear while I performed various chores (feeding the dogs, washing the dishes, talking to the plants in the plant room [don't ask], letting the dogs out, letting the dogs in, giving the dogs bananas [their favorite treat next to macadamia nuts and stalks of broccoli], dusting, sweeping, whatever).

Her complaints range from her inability to make new friends to how expensive everything it and how she can't afford any of it and how she wishes she lives in the country [note if you will the rural areas she wants to live in are among the most expensive in the country] and what is wrong with her skin and she asked someone to go to a movie and they forgot and how could they do that to her how could they do that to her and besides their dog! god what a horrible dog they need to get that dog a new home and her cat isn't coming home to eat every day and that means he isn't eating so he's going to die [I suggested that perhaps her cat is like all the cats I've known and has found several places to feed him, a suggestion which met with the most horrific of screams NO MY CAT DOESN'T LIKE ANYBODY BUT ME YOU DON'T UNDERSTAND I FEED HIM AND HE ONLY EATS A LITTLE BUT THEN GOES TO SLEEP AND THEN HE DISAPPEARS FOR THREE DAYS AT A TIME AND I'M WORRIED ABOUT HIM BECAUSE HE'S STARVING TO DEATH to which I respond is he losing weight/ NO HE'S GETTING FAT I'M SURE HE'S GOT A TUMOR OR SOME DISEASE THAT'S MAKING HIM BLOAT UP BUT HE EVER COMES AROUND ANYMORE SO I CAN'T CATCH HIM TO TAKE HIM TO THE VET ... ) ...

I mean, what do you do with people like this? I once cut her off for two years because I just couldn't take it anymore.

The problem is, I'm her only friend and I feel really badly for her. But her thinking is so strange.

Worse, she spends a lot of time getting into my business. DON'T YOU EVER GO OUT TO THE MOVIES? The closest movie theatre is 25-30 miles away and I like my place and I'd rather spend my money on getting new fencing or expanding my Plant Rescue Facility [stuffed full of plants I've rescued from roadways and poorly cared for nursery facilities] [and some I've grown myself] BUT (insert my real name) THAT'S NOT HEALTHY YOU SHOULD BE GOING TO MOVIES AND OUT TO DINNER MORE OFTEN but if I went out to the movies and to dinner all the time, I wouldn't have a place in the country and I sure wouldn't be able to get anything fixed out here BUT BUT BUT I DON'T UNDERSTAND DON'T YOU GET LONELY? why would I get lonely, I have lots to do and besides I see friends a few times a week [STUNNED SILENCE] YOU HAVE FRIENDS?????

Ayeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!

I mean, what do you do?

Is it any wonder I'm her only friend?

What do you do?

The Elections

Agonist has a really excellent roundup of links to stories about the elections. I'm refusing comment, not because I'm not interested, but because so many others are doing a much better job than I could.

Besides, I don't really have an opinion, good or bad. This is what I know: I am suspicious of the media hoopla and especially the possibilities [probabilities] of exploitation by the Bushinistas. I am concerned about the aftermath of the elections and the natur of whoever has been put into office.

I'm in wait and see mode, IOW. We'll see.

Sunday, January 30, 2005

Fascism

Wikipedia defines fascism:

quote: The word fascism has come to mean any system of government resembling Mussolini's, that[:]
* exalts nation and sometimes race above the individual,
* uses violence and modern techniques of propaganda and censorship to forcibly suppress political opposition,
* engages in severe economic and social regimentation.
* engages in corporatism. /end quote

Corporatism is:

quote: Historically, corporatism or corporativism (Italian corporativismo) is a political system in which legislative power is given to corporations that represent economic, industrial, and professional groups. Unlike pluralism, in which many groups must compete for control of the state, in corporatism, certain unelected bodies take a critical role in the decision-making process. This original meaning was not connected with the specific notion of a business corporation, being a rather more general reference to any incorporated body. The word "corporatism" is derived from the Latin word for body, corpus. /end quote

"Corporatism" in this context means:
quote: [...] tendencies in politics for legislators and administrations to be influenced or dominated by the interests of business enterprises (limited liability corporations). The influence by other types of corporations, such as those representing organized labor, is relatively minor. In this view, government decisions are seen as being influenced strongly by which sorts of policies will lead to greater profits for favored companies. In this sense of the word, corporatism is also termed corporatocracy. If there is substantial military-corporate collaboration it is often called militarism or the military-industrial complex.

Corporatism is also used to describe a condition of corporate-dominated globalization. Points enumerated by users of the term in this sense include the prevalence of very large, multinational corporations that freely move operations around the world in response to corporate, rather than public, needs; the push by the corporate world to introduce legislation and treaties which would restrict the abilities of individual nations to restrict corporate activity; and similar measures to allow corporations to sue nations over "restrictive" policies, such as a nation's environmental regulations that would restrict corporate activities. /end quote

Features of fascism include "[...] totalitarianism, [...] rightist mass movement to attack the organizations of the working class [specifically] parties of the left and trade unions [...] Fascism, in many respects, is an ideology of negativism: anti-liberal, anti-socialist, anti-Communist, anti-democratic, anti-egalitarian, etc., and in some of its forms anti-religion."

Laura Dawn Lewis delineates the characteristics of fascism as follows.

quote: 1. Fascism is commonly defined as an open terror-based dictatorship which is:

*Reactionary: makes policy based upon current circumstances rather than creating policies to prevent problems; piles lies and misnomers on top of more lies until the truth becomes indistinguishable, revised or forgotten.

*Chauvinistic: Two or more tiered legal systems, varying rights based upon superficial characteristics such as race, creed and origin.

*Imperialist elements of finance capital: Extending a nation's authority by territorial acquisition or by the establishment of economic and political domination of one state over its allies.

2. Fascism is an extreme measure taken by the middle classes to forestall lower-working class revolution; it thrives on the weakness of the middle classes. It accomplishes this by embracing the middle-class' love of the status-quo, its complacency and its fears of: Generating a united struggle within the working class; Revolution; Losing its own power and position within society.

In a more simplistic term the people currently in control fear that if they allow equal rights and equal consideration to those being oppressed, they will become oppressed and lose everything.  Generally those in power are of a smaller segment of society, but they hold the wealth and control of key systems like manufacturing, law, finance and government position, (i.e. the slave owners in the south prior to the civil war) and the oppressed vastly outnumber them, (the slaves during the same period).

In reality it is the oppressors' fear of retribution by the oppressed that perpetuates fascism; for justification they dehumanize, demonize, strip them of rights, add new laws, restrict movement and attempt to control them by whatever means possible to prevent an uprising.  It is very common in a fascist system to have the oppressed referred to as sub-human, animals, terrorists, savages, barbarians, vermin or any other term designed to create justification for the acts of terror and fascism perpetrated on the oppressed. Via dehumanization society can then accept that the oppressed are incapable of thinking or acting in a peaceful manner or taking care of themselves, and thus society is exonerated from culpability in their own minds. Propaganda, not persuasion, logic or law, is the tool of fascism, though at times very difficult to spot.  It specifically rides the fact that negative behavior is innate, (born with) rather than a logical behavior in response to oppression. Propaganda also empowers the oppressors with elitism racially, socially, intellectually and/or spiritually. /end quote

Lewis then goes on to define the seven warning signs of Fascism:

quote: (Warning signs) that foster & fuel fascism are: Instability of capitalist relationships or markets; The existence of considerable declassed social elements; The stripping of rights and wealth focused upon a specific segment of the population, specifically the middle class and intellectuals within urban areas as this the group with the means, intelligence and ability to stop fascism if given the opportunity; Discontent among the rural lower middle class (clerks, secretaries, white collar labor); Consistent discontent among the general middle and lower middle classes against the oppressing upper-classes (haves vs have-nots).

Hate: Pronounced, perpetuated and accepted public disdain of a specific group defined by race, origin, theology or association.

Greed: The motivator of fascism, which is generally associated with land, space or scarce resources in the possession of those being oppressed.
 
Organized Propaganda:
a) The creation of social mythology that venerates (creates saints of) one element of society while concurrently vilifying (dehumanizing) another element of the population through misinformation, misdirection and the obscuring of factual matter through removal, destruction or social humiliation, (name-calling, false accusations, belittling and threats).

b) The squelching of public debate not agreeing with the popular agenda via slander, libel, threats, theft, destruction, historical revisionism and social humiliation. Journalists in particular are terrorized if they attempt to publish stories contrary to the agenda.

3. Fascism dovetails business & government sectors into a single economic unit, while concurrently increasing in-fighting and distrust between the units fostering advancement towards war.

4. a) Fascism promotes chauvinist demagogy, (appealing to the prejudices and emotions of the populace) by fostering selective persecution and accepted public vilification of the target group. It then promotes this a "patriotic", "supportive" or "the party line" and disagreement with such as "anti-government", "anti-faith" or "anti-nation".

b) Fascism creates confusion through "facts". It relies on junk science, revisionism, the elimination of cultural records/treasures and obfuscations to create its case and gain acceptance. Fascism can also combine Marxist critiques of capitalism or faith based critics of the same to re-define middle class perceptions of democracy and  to force its issues, confuse logic and create majority consensus between targeted groups.This is also referred to as creating a state of Cognitive Dissonance, the mental state most human beings are easily manipulated within.

5. Both middle and upper-middle-class dictated democracy and fascism are class dictatorships that use organized violence (verbal or physical) to maintain the class rule of the oppressors over the oppressed.

The difference between the two is demonstrated by the policies towards non-lower-working class classes. Fascism attains power through the substitution of one state's form of class domination with another form, generally a middle class based  republic segues into an open terrorist dictatorship, run by a few elite. /end quote

There's much more. Suffice it to say, we're not creeping toward it --- we're already there.

The Iraqi Elections

From Free Iraq:


Raed: These elections will open the doors of hell.

Sunday Supper

Lamb stew

2 leftover lamb shoulder cuts (bone and meat)
Reduced lamb stock
Olive oil
1 large sweet yellow onion, chopped
3 carrots
1 potato
Thyme
Bay
A tad of water


Homemade vanilla ice cream

Sunday Morning Poultry Blogging

What a handsome fellow, don't you all think?
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