In this world of sin and sorrow there is always something to be thankful for; as for me, I rejoice that I am not a Republican.

I was reading the article at Slate a few days ago, The N-Word Unmentionable lessons of the midterm aftermath.

The extent to which it is verboten to bring up Nazi Germany has now become a jape. “Can’t pols just have little Post-its on their microphones reminding them not to compare anything to the Nazis?” Maureen Dowd wrote in the Times recently, after yet another off-message senator was taken to the woodshed. The ban applies equally to the arena of intellectual debate, such that even the wild and woolly Internet has a Godwin’s Law to describe the cred-killing effect of dropping the N-bomb. So, even though it is a truism that we learn by analogy, even though the Bush administration unapologetically practices the reality-eschewing art of propaganda—with procured “journalists,” its own “news” pipeline at Fox, leader-centric (“war president”) stagecraft, the classic Big Lie MO of, say, draft avoiders smearing war heroes as unpatriotic—we are not permitted to draw any comparisons to the über-propagandists of the previous century. That prohibition is reiterated in the coy caution with which I introduce the topic here.

The taboo is itself a precept of the propaganda state. Usually its enforcers profess a politically correct motive: the exceptionalism of genocidal Jewish victimhood. Thus, poor Sen. Richard Durbin, the Democrat from Illinois, found himself apologizing to the Anti-Defamation League after Republicans jumped all over him for invoking Nazi Germany to describe the conditions at Guantanamo. And so by allowing the issue to be defined by the unique suffering of the Jews, we ignore the Holocaust’s more universal hallmark: the banal ordinariness of the citizens who perpetrated it. The relevance of Third Reich Germany to today’s America is not that Bush equals Hitler or that the United States government is a death machine. It’s that it provides a rather spectacular example of the insidious process by which decent people come to regard the unthinkable as not only thinkable but doable, justifiable. Of the way freethinkers and speakers become compliant and self-censoring. Of the mechanism by which moral or humanistic categories are converted into bureaucratic ones. And finally, of the willingness with which we hand control over to the state and convince ourselves that we are the masters of our destiny.

It is to their credit that the leaders of modern conservatism are not the full throttle jack booted thugs of the Third Reich. Not because some of them at least don’t have similar political fantasies.They have learned a few lessons from history, not enough of them but a few. They couldn’t get away with rounding up every group of people that they disagreed with and place them in camps. Why go to all that trouble anyway when by the use of fear, cultural wedge issues, legal wrangling, a one party government, and the help of the corporate media they had a kind of perfect political storm in which decent came to be equated with being unamerican. Decent was not silenced as much as muffled and marginalized. Diane McWhorter’s article lead me to this piece by Alan Wolfe, A Fascist Philosopher Helps Us Understand Contemporary Politics

Schmitt argued that liberals, properly speaking, can never be political. Liberals tend to be optimistic about human nature, whereas “all genuine political theories presuppose man to be evil.” Liberals believe in the possibility of neutral rules that can mediate between conflicting positions, but to Schmitt there is no such neutrality, since any rule — even an ostensibly fair one — merely represents the victory of one political faction over another. (If that formulation sounds like Stanley Fish when he persistently argues that there is no such thing as principle, that only testifies to the ways in which Schmitt’s ideas pervade the contemporary intellectual zeitgeist.) Liberals insist that there exists something called society independent of the state, but Schmitt believed that pluralism is an illusion because no real state would ever allow other forces, like the family or the church, to contest its power. Liberals, in a word, are uncomfortable around power, and, because they are, they criticize politics more than they engage in it.

No wonder that Schmitt admired thinkers such as Machiavelli and Hobbes, who treated politics without illusions. Leaders inspired by them, in no way in thrall to the individualism of liberal thought, are willing to recognize that sometimes politics involves the sacrifice of life. They are better at fighting wars than liberals because they dispense with such notions as the common good or the interests of all humanity. (“Humanity,” Schmitt wrote in a typically terse formulation that is brilliant if you admire it and chilling if you do not, “cannot wage war because it has no enemy.”) Conservatives are not bothered by injustice because they recognize that politics means maximizing your side’s advantages, not giving them away. If unity can be achieved only by repressing dissent, even at risk of violating the rule of law, that is how conservatives will achieve it.

In short, the most important lesson Schmitt teaches is that the differences between liberals and conservatives are not just over the policies they advocate but also over the meaning of politics itself. Schmitt’s German version of conservatism, which shared so much with Nazism, has no direct links with American thought. Yet residues of his ideas can nonetheless be detected in the ways in which conservatives today fight for their objectives.

Liberals think of politics as a means; conservatives as an end. Politics, for liberals, stops at the water’s edge; for conservatives, politics never stops. Liberals think of conservatives as potential future allies; conservatives treat liberals as unworthy of recognition. Liberals believe that policies ought to be judged against an independent ideal such as human welfare or the greatest good for the greatest number; conservatives evaluate policies by whether they advance their conservative causes. Liberals instinctively want to dampen passions; conservatives are bent on inflaming them. Liberals think there is a third way between liberalism and conservatism; conservatives believe that anyone who is not a conservative is a liberal. Liberals want to put boundaries on the political by claiming that individuals have certain rights that no government can take away; conservatives argue that in cases of emergency — conservatives always find cases of emergency — the reach and capacity of the state cannot be challenged.

As large a snip as this is there is more at the link and explains Carl Schmitt and his ideas in historical context. It has been suggested in a few articles over the last couple years that the neocons also many traits in common with Stalin-ism. That case can probably be made too. The far right right and the far left are ultimately very similar, they worship at the alter of authority and see the mass of humanity as unruly cattle that must be prodded regularly for their own good. The evangelical right connects to this concept on a very fundamental level when they repeat the mantra that we’re all born sinners. A sinner is someone that does evil and since we’re all born with a propensity to evil mankind’s fate must be guided by an iron fist. Its not that liberals cannot be cynical about human nature, but they think that citizens given time, education, and the opportunity to participate society can reach some kind positive dynamic equilibrium. There is just too much liberalism built into the Bill of Rights for the Schmittian Right to win more then battles. If they ever won the war of ideas in America, I don’t know what we would be, but we wouldn’t be America anymore. I’m not sure that is very productive to shouting Nazi everytime a conservative opens their mouth, but the word should be on the table. If they walk like a duck and quack like a duck then they’re at the very least a new rebranded form of fascist. ( Note: It might be a fine distinction, but when Wolfe says that conservatives are better at fighting wars he is mistaken. Conservatives are better at starting wars and no modern war has ever been won by a conservative. To their credit liberals are actually better at fighting wars, i.e. WW I and II)
Bush Nuts Are George W. Bush lovers certifiable?

The study used Modified General Assessment Functioning, or MGAF, a 100-point scale that measures the functioning of disabled patients. A second scale, developed by Rakfeldt, was also used. Knowledge of current issues, government and politics were assessed on a 12-item scale devised by the study authors.

“Bush supporters had significantly less knowledge about current issues, government and politics than those who supported Kerry,” the study says.

Lohse says the trend isn’t unique to Bush: A 1977 study by Frumkin & Ibrahim found psychiatric patients preferred Nixon over McGovern in the 1972 election.

Rakfeldt says the study was legitimate, though not intended to show what it did.

“Yes it was a legitimate study but these data were mined after the fact,” Rakfeldt says. “You can ask new questions of the data. I haven’t looked at” Lohse’s conclusions regarding Bush, Rakfeldt says.

“That doesn’t make it illegitimate, it just wasn’t part of the original project.”

For his part, Lohse is a self-described “Reagan revolution fanatic” but said that W. is just “beyond the pale.”

” In this world of sin and sorrow there is always something to be thankful for; as for me, I rejoice that I am not a Republican.” H. L. Mencken

” Do not do an immoral thing for moral reasons.” Thomas Hardy

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Human beings, who are almost unique in having the ability to learn from the experience of others…

Time is a little short. Well actually it has been for the past few weeks so just some link catch-up on some articles that are interesting in themselves, but also because despite the results of this past election much of the media still has a lot of catching up to do when it comes to presenting a more accurate picture of America and the issues.

The Free Market Free-for-All Proof that the stock market is irrational

The death of Milton Friedman has been an occasion for celebrating the magic of capitalism, and fair enough. Capitalism is pretty great, and Friedman was its feisty defender when that was far from a universally held view. But let’s not get carried away. There are things capitalism does not do well, and other things that masquerade as capitalism at work, and claim its virtues, but aren’t entitled.

Capitalism is brilliant at setting the price of potatoes. But how good is it at setting the price of a large company? To all appearances, the stock market is capitalism operating under near-laboratory conditions. Financial markets deal almost entirely in electronic blips. Supply and demand can chase each other around the world with no actual goods to get in the way, and prices can adjust constantly and instantaneously. Yet the prices set in financial markets are patently wrong.

That is not my opinion. Well, yes, it is my opinion. But it is not only my opinion. It is held by America’s financial leaders, though they don’t put it quite that way. Actually, it is close to a provable fact. The free market cannot be setting the right price for financial assets such as shares of stock, because often there are different prices with equal claims to be the product of free-market capitalism. They all can’t be right.

Michael Kinsley knows more about economics then I do, but I would argue that because of the commodities market that we don’t even get a true value on the price of potatoes.

Waxman has Bush administration in sights

After agitating by Waxman, the State Department had to revise a report claiming terrorism had decreased in 2003, to reflect that it actually had increased.

Waxman found overbilling on Katrina contracts and overbilling by Halliburton in Iraq. He revealed that seniors wouldn’t really save on premiums by switching to the government’s Medicare drug plan. With Davis, he issued a report documenting extensive contacts between the White House and convicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff. The Taekwondo Union agreed to prohibit head kicks by anyone under 14.

And when Bush administration resistance meant he didn’t get results, Waxman got headlines for trying.

As Government Reform chairman, Waxman will aim to reassert congressional checks on the executive branch. A priority are government contracts: for Hurricane Katrina cleanup, homeland security and the Iraq war.

Contrary to Republican portrayals, Waxman said he doesn’t plan to issue scattershot subpoenas. He said he has little interest in revisiting Bush administration failures that are already well known, such as Iraq war intelligence.

He wants to do it all with the help of Republicans.

“We want to return to civility and bipartisanship,” Waxman said. “Legislation ought to be based on evidence, not ideology.”

I’ve seen a few news reports and blog posts that have offered up something that at least approximates bi-partisanship. All I can say is good luck on that. If, let’s say in eight or twelve years the pendulum swings back ( I don’t think it ever will, but let’s suppose for a moment) and conservatives take control again. They will rule, not govern just as they have for years. While it usually doesn’t hurt to listen to the opposition Democrats are crazy they they think that investigations of the gross corruption and undermining the rule of law will be meet with the kind of seriousness that conservatives have shown nothing but contempt for.

I’m a little disheartened that we’re even still having this debate, Having It All
Say goodbye to the “success penalty” — professional women have the best chance at marriage and children.

You can’t have it all, women have long been told. The price of female achievement, goes the centuries-old conventional wisdom, is loneliness. And modern commentators have taken up the refrain. “The more successful the woman, the less likely it is she will find a husband or bear a child,” argued economist Sylvia Ann Hewlett in 2002. Last year, New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd claimed that America faces “an epidemic of professional women missing out on husbands and kids” because men remain unwilling to enter equal relationships with educated, high-powered women. And in the first two-thirds of the 20th century, as women gained greater access to higher education and professional work, such was indeed the case. Women who earned bachelor’s degrees and PhDs were more likely to miss out on their “MRS” degrees than their less-educated sisters.

But for women born since 1960, there has been a revolutionary reversal of the historic pattern. As late as the 1980s, according to economist Elaina Rose, women with PhDs or the equivalent were less likely to marry than women with a high school degree. But the “marital penalty” for highly educated women has declined steadily since then, and by 2000 it had disappeared. Today, women with a college degree or higher are more likely to marry than women with less education and lower earnings potential.

Highly educated women are also now as likely to have children as their less-educated counterparts — and much more likely to have children born in wedlock.

Here I thought that in a free democratic society that it was always about choices regardless of social trends and that the Right’s big mistake ( which they will continue to make) is thinking of the actual human beings in the cross-hairs of the culture wars as cattle that can be ideologically herded into the proper corrals. Is amazes me how little they know about the human heart and how little credit they give it for making choices that suit it.

“Human beings, who are almost unique in having the ability to learn from the experience of others, are also remarkable for their apparent disinclination to do so.” – Douglas Adams

But would you tolerate the peace?

Jordan’s king warns of civil wars

Bigger picture

King Abdullah will host US President George W Bush and Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Maliki in Amman later this week.

He said the US should look at the big picture in seeking a resolution to the problems in Iraq and bring in all of the region, including Syria and Iran.

America needs to look at it in the total picture – it’s not just one issue by itself
King Abdullah of Jordan

He said if a regional peace process did not develop soon, “there won’t be anything to talk about”.

Pressure is growing on the Bush administration to include Iran and Syria in helping curb the violence in neighbouring Iraq.

Iraqi President Jalal Talabani is heading for Tehran on Monday for talks aimed at securing Tehran’s aid in calming the sectarian violence.

Last week there was talk of a summit convened by Iran to discuss Iraq involving the presidents of Syria, Iraq and Iran, says the BBC’s Frances Harrison in Teheran.

This was an idea which caused huge interest because of US suggestions that it might be time to have direct talks with Iran and Syria on Iraq. But such talks look unlikely now, our correspondent adds.

On Sunday, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said his government would be prepared to assist if the US stops “bullying” Tehran, which rejects Washington’s allegations that it is seeking to build nuclear weapons.

Kind of a an eye catcher that you don’t get until the bottom of the article. It is odd that conservatives don’t have the slightest problem dealing with China in terms of diplomacy and a depository for the jobs of the American middle-class while at the same time thinks they will get cooties if they have direct talks with Tehran. Bush and the neocons seem to view Islam the way they view homosexuality. They think if you spend too much time around one you’ll catch it like a disease. This is a bizarre personality trait for any adult to possess, much less the president of the U.S.
The above article is from the BBC and in some ways contradicts this report from NYT, Panel to Weigh Overture by U.S. to Iran and Syria

WASHINGTON, Nov. 26 — A draft report on strategies for Iraq, which will be debated here by a bipartisan commission beginning Monday, urges an aggressive regional diplomatic initiative that includes direct talks with Iran and Syria but sets no timetables for a military withdrawal, according to officials who have seen all or parts of the document.

While the diplomatic strategy appears likely to be accepted, with some amendments, by the 10-member Iraq Study Group, members of the commission and outsiders involved in its work said they expected a potentially divisive debate about timetables for beginning an American withdrawal.

In interviews, several officials said announcing a major withdrawal was the only way to persuade the government of Iraq’s prime minister, Nuri Kamal al-Maliki, to focus on creating an effective Iraqi military force.

Several commission members, including some Democrats, are discussing proposals that call for a declaration that within a specified period of time, perhaps as short as a year, a significant number of American troops should be withdrawn, regardless of whether the Iraqi government’s forces are declared ready to defend the country.

This panel’s report is more or less a thin veil sheet to cover the neocon’s ass from blistering too badly. Bush doesn’t need a commission report to to streamline whatever talks are necessary to get the ball rolling. Let’s all remember that he is the “decider” and as such he doesn’t need a special panel report to correct course. Talks with Iran might well turn out to be an exercise in head banging frustration, but an astute political leader would also see it as a chance to embarrass Iran if rhetoric doesn’t live up to public pontifications. One would think that since conservatives just got their collective heads handed to them on a platter for playing a grifter like con on the American people for the last six years that a little light might go off and they’d get a clue. Is the BBC right that talks are off for now or is NYT right and the administration is just waiting for the green light from Bush’s dad’s old crew.

I thought it was bad enough that people were trampling over each other at retial stores in the fear that America would run out of stuff to buy, With the Price of Copper Up, the Plumbing Can Go Missing

PITTSBURGH, Nov. 26 — When Mike Roscoe first saw water running along the gangway between his two row houses, he thought he was dealing with a leaking pipe, not the impact of global economic forces.

After all, why would thieves — midnight plumbers as the police call them — tear out the floorboards, toilets, even the walls of the homes, all in search of copper tubing?

“To go through this effort? I don’t get it,” said Mr. Roscoe, 39, a truck driver and fledgling landlord who discovered the damage Monday when he arrived to do some work to help get his two attached, red-brick houses in the Allentown neighborhood ready to rent. “You could make more money getting a job at minimum wage.”

Not necessarily. In the last year, a worldwide surge in demand for copper, largely from construction booms in China and India, has pushed up its value. Though the market price has slipped, it is still more than double what it was just over a year ago.

Scrap metal dealers in Pittsburgh said they were paying about $2 a pound for No. 2 copper, which by definition has been bent or soldered, more than triple the 65 cents they paid a year ago. That kind of payout makes a copper haul like the approximately 20 pounds taken out of Mr. Roscoe’s row houses worth about eight hours of work at minimum wage ($5.15 an hour).

You’ve got the mouth of a she wolf
Inside the mask of an innocent lamb
You say your heart is all compassion
But there’s just a flat line on your cardiogram

Yet you always made a profit baby
If it was a famine or a feast

Yes, I’m the soul of indiscretion,
I was cursed with x-ray vision,
I could see right through all the lies you told,
When you smiled for the television

And you can see the coming battle
You pray the drums will never cease
And you may win this war that’s coming
But would you tolerate the peace?
from the lyrics to This War by Sting

To become truly great, one has to stand with people, not above them

Leaving Iraq, Honorably

There will be no victory or defeat for the United States in Iraq. These terms do not reflect the reality of what is going to happen there. The future of Iraq was always going to be determined by the Iraqis — not the Americans.

Iraq is not a prize to be won or lost. It is part of the ongoing global struggle against instability, brutality, intolerance, extremism and terrorism. There will be no military victory or military solution for Iraq. Former secretary of state Henry Kissinger made this point last weekend.

The time for more U.S. troops in Iraq has passed. We do not have more troops to send and, even if we did, they would not bring a resolution to Iraq. Militaries are built to fight and win wars, not bind together failing nations. We are once again learning a very hard lesson in foreign affairs: America cannot impose a democracy on any nation — regardless of our noble purpose.

We have misunderstood, misread, misplanned and mismanaged our honorable intentions in Iraq with an arrogant self-delusion reminiscent of Vietnam. Honorable intentions are not policies and plans. Iraq belongs to the 25 million Iraqis who live there. They will decide their fate and form of government.

I find Hagel is a little disorienting as a conservative. He has made some brave laudable statements in the past that have acknowledged the reality of Iraq and Afghanistan. At the same time he has by his votes continued the policies he condemns and has supported other Republicans whose foreign policy proclivities are extensions of the same ones that Hagel condemns. The freepers will, if they have not already labeled him a RINO just for going a little off script. That said Hagel gets it when he acknowledges that a political victory forced down the throats of the Iraqi people is impossible. Militarily the insurgents cannot win against U.S. forces, but our continued presence there will allow them to pick off our troops at the rate of a few a day for as long as we’re there and those supreme sacrifices will gain us little. The civil strife or low level civil war ( whatever we’re calling it this week) will not abate. It is unlikely that Iraq will fall into the operational arms of al-Queda. Iraq needs money and for that they need a working economy. An economy that for the foreseeable future runs on being able to produce and deliver oil.

America finds itself in a dangerous and isolated position in the world. We are perceived as a nation at war with Muslims. Unfortunately, that perception is gaining credibility in the Muslim world and for many years will complicate America’s global credibility, purpose and leadership. This debilitating and dangerous perception must be reversed as the world seeks a new geopolitical, trade and economic center that will accommodate the interests of billions of people over the next 25 years. The world will continue to require realistic, clear-headed American leadership — not an American divine mission.

The right-wing christianists are going to be a little pissed. They very much want a war against Islam and see the conflict in Iraq as just that. These right-wing Christians, as opposed to mainstream Christians are now being courted by Senator McCain(R) who coincidentally or not is calling for more troops for Iraq. If McCain’s ability to deny reality last into the primaries his chances of becoming president will be increasingly dim. The only hardcore support that “staying the course” has left is ultra-conservative evangelicals who seem to be morphing into a liability for the future of the GOP rather then the plus they used to be. Most Americans have opted to get on the reality bus with Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Hagel.
If I seem harsh on Hagel compare and contrast to John writing at Ezra Klein’s blog, A Discordant Note

It is understandable that politicians are allergic to even implying that America has, in fact, been defeated in Iraq. Nevertheless, it’s difficult to ponder what else you call it when America fails to find WMDs, fails to eliminate a terrorist haven, in fact creates a terrorist haven, is unable to support it’s chosen government, is forced to withdraw from Iraq, and leaves a vacuum which Hagel acknowledges America’s rivals (if not enemies) will fill.

The common thread through Hagel’s bizarrely optimistic view of the Assad-Maliki-Ahmedinejad conference and the words “there will be no victory or defeat” in Iraq is a desire to conceal the magnitude of America’s defeat. If any country expends billions of dollars and thousands of lives and fails to achieve any meaningful objective, and ends up in a weaker position than when it began, that’s a defeat. Hagel is unwilling or unable to state that plainly, and this is dangerous.

I’m not simply trying to be churlish, here. It’s important for American policymakers to acknowledge the facts of what has actually occurred if they’re going to learn any meaningful lessons from this debacle.

Humility is not an attribute that American politicians do well, but Hagel probably gives as good as we’re going to get from conservatives. Hagel, Noonan, Kissinger and a few others are making some kind of amends after the fact and a recent historic defeat at the poll are a day late and a dollar short, as much as Democrats like John and myself my recent the too late apologists, imagine those who have lost family and friends in Iraq. No one should die tying up the loose ends of the neocon’s foreign policy fantasies.

Some interesting links, James Dobson is pro-family except he doesn’t care too much for mother child bonding, James Dobson Identifies Cause of Homosexuality
WMDs located or there are WMD everywhere,

The US had over 30,000 tons of chemical WMDs in its arsenal. Exactly who they were planning to use them on isn’t clear. The Pentagon began destroying them in 1986. Yes, that’s right. Twenty years go. And they’re not even half done. Meanwhile getting rid of them has gotten more expensive. Originally the estimate was $2 billion. Now it’s $32 billion.

Why are 99.9 percent of hate groups on the Right? I looked at my state and even though I live in the south I was a little shocked, Active U.S. Hate Groups in 2005

“To become truly great, one has to stand with people, not above them.” Charles de Montesquieu

No man is fit to command another that cannot command himself

Why I hate, rather than dislike, the Bush movement

Everything they accuse others of doing — exploiting national security for domestic political gain, being ‘unserious’ about war matters, playing games with the mission of the troops — is what they do as transparently as possible. And note how they used a senior military official to make the disgusting claim that the violence in Iraq was related to a desire to help Democrats win the midterm election: “A U.S. military spokesman in Iraq last week attributed the increase in violence at least partly to terrorists who want to influence the American vote.”

This post from Unclaimed Territory reminded me of this story from 2004 where the events described by Robert Perry took place before the elections. Decisions were made that costs American and Iraqi lives one one reason and one reason alone, to get George W. Bush elected, Bush’s Bloody Flip-Flop

While a military-political catastrophe on one level, the aborted assault on Fallujah also represents another case of politicians in the White House second-guessing military commanders on the ground, a violation of a repeated Bush campaign pledge from Election 2000 that he would not micromanage military operations.

Overruling military judgments occurred, too, in the days before the Iraq invasion when Bush’s civilian advisers denigrated warnings from uniformed officers that a larger U.S. force would be needed for both the invasion and the occupation. Army Gen. Eric Shinseki foresaw the need for several hundred thousand soldiers.

Instead, Bush’s civilian officials predicted flower-strewn welcomes for U.S. troops and trimming their numbers back to 30,000 within months. Since the invasion, U.S. troop levels of about 135,000 have proven inadequate to maintain security around the California-sized country where more than 1,000 American soldiers have died.

Fallujah was another example of Bush and his civilian advisers thinking they knew better than the military commanders on the ground. By overruling the Marine commander in Fallujah twice in April, Bush managed to make the United States look first reckless and then feckless, as U.S. Marines and Iraqi civilians died in a hasty assault that was then abruptly abandoned.

Still, Bush continues to succeed in presenting his Democratic opponent, John Kerry, as a flip-flopper who lacks the requisite decisiveness to be commander-in-chief.

The drivel Glenn refers to which is disseminated by the fringe Right blogs, pundits and the Whitehouse, and echoed by the broadcast media in particular is just another day at Camp Avoid Responsibility. The left and many moderate voices like General Anthony Zinni among others warned anyone that didn’t have neocon cotton stuffed in their ears that the occupation of Iraq would not be a “cakewalk” , the war was premised on lies laced with paranoia and the Right and a few DINOs ignored us. Conservatives managed the war in Iraq, Rumsfeld and Bush let the terrorists in, not Hillary Clinton or Michael Moore. Bush and his enablers on the Right allowed Iraq to sink into a never ending state of civil strife. Not Democrats who couldn’t even manage a filibuster of Joseph Alito, one of the worse legal minds to ever sit on the Supreme Court. Yet Democrats without even the benefit of the Chair of any Congressional committee, is according to the Right responsible for all the failures that only Republicans and their corporate cronies had the power to do anything about. Soon Democrats will have the Committee chairs and if we were to do an historical graph, my bet is that a year from now at the very least we’ll have slowed the most egregious corporate screw-ups of Iraq. Contractors will be held accountable. Goals will be set and not just more hot air emitted by the President of Spin and his jester Sir Dick ( though hot air and this administration go together like grabage and flies). The Right’s story line has the ultimate in narrative flexibility. Nothing is ever the failure of post Eisenhower conservatism. They’re like children who caught face stained with jelly and hand in the jar just keep shouting hysterically that they didn’t do nuttin’ wrong yet claim that they can be trusted with responsibility. It cannot be both, one cannot shirk responsibility while at the same time claiming that their political movement and its strategies are the only ones to be trusted. The counselors at Camp Avoid want to have it both ways, they wanted all the power, they got it and don’t want the liability for letting little Timmy drown. If that isn’t strange enough or sick enough they also want to claim that Iraqi insurgents and the terrorists that Republican leadership let into Iraq now have some mystical power over the American electorate. Yes fellow American voters, a couple weeks ago you thought you stepped into that booth and voted your conscience, but nooooo, al-Queda was beaming thought control waves into your brain forcing you to vote for Democrats. Perhaps we should place the blame on Fox, the Washington Times, Instapundit, or the multitude of Bush echos for spinning the news from Iraq – they actually believe that we’ve been winning. Even though Bush still calls the shots in Iraq , Bush will still be the Commander-in-chief, and Bush’s SOD will still move the little plastic pieces around the big map at the Pentagon they can still try very very hard to shift blame to Democrats just like they try to give Ronnie Raygun credit for ending the Cold War. The facts will not support them, but when have facts ever gotten in the way of right-wing spin. Then like a never ending episode of the Twilight Zone Republicans will look at themselves in the mirror every morning and wonder why most Americans now self identify as Democrats.

There really is little sense in trying to understand the way the Right thinks, thinking has little to do with the garbage they try and pass off as a political philosophy. They are followers and believers thus rationalism and truth are simply obstacles in their path, Neo-Cons or Just Plain “Cons”

There are parallels between neo-conservatism and other similar apocalyptical movements (like Christian fundamentalism). They see the world in Manichaeistic terms – good versus evil. They see a clash between good and evil as both desirable and inevitable. In their world, diplomacy is unacceptable, since it implies compromise with evil. And in the final battle, they see the outcome as assured – with good triumphant. All that is required, they believe, for good to be victorious is a determined act of the will. This was the ahistorical lesson they “learned” from Reagan. And this was the lesson they sought to impart to George W. Bush.

And so it was that President Bush bought their “snake oil”. He declared a divine mission to promote freedom against its enemies – whom he termed the “Axis of Evil”. Shunning traditional diplomacy, the Administration instead built a ‘coalition of the willing’. Using “shock and awe” they brought down the Baghdad regime and declared “mission accomplished”, convinced that out of the resultant chaos a new democratic order would spontaneously emerge, not only in Iraq, but across the Middle East.

It did not.

Now four years later, unrepentant, the same neo-conservatives who believed that will and force alone were sufficient to unleash freedom, now blame those who bought their elixir. They are accusing the Administrative of poor execution and incompetence. Some blame Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, once their “darling”, some blame President Bush, some blame both.

To be sure, a few neo-conservatives appear to be remorseful, but most refuse to accept responsibility and don’t want the Administration’s failure in Iraq and beyond to discredit their world view. Others have actually been emboldened, advocating a stepped up offensive by fellow neo-cons to reassert their mission. But none are able to acknowledge that their dependence on ideology and refusal to understand reality, is what is principally at fault.

“No man is fit to command another that cannot command himself.” William Penn

“Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Willing is not enough; we must do.” Johann von Goethe

Think what a better world it would be if we all, the whole world, had cookies and milk about three o’clock every afternoon

Though Nancy Pelosi was right to give Rangel’s call for a draft a swift kick there is something to be said for an idea that has been tossed around before of two years of national service. That service could be in the regular military, the Coast Guard or some kind of urban or conservation work. A program some time down the road where regardless of family income, race, or religion high school graduates could serve their country and gets some real world experience in dealing with different kinds of people.

There is a lot of pressure in our society to live a certain kind of life. To be married and have children is one of the strongest social pressures. We’ve all read the studies that tell us married people live longer. Yet marriage or having children is not is not a community decision regardless of what our culture pundits tell us or whatever the current trends. Some people do quite well alone and I have always wondered about the pressure that family and society puts on those people. They’re made to fell as though they are failures or weird. If in most respects they are leading a relatively happy life why not respect their individuality. In movies and television being single has become a cause for concern, comic at best or a kind of malady in need of a cure. What happened to individuality and respecting the choices of the individual. Like a Fish Needs a Bicycle: For Some People, Intimacy Is Toxic

It is practically an article of faith among psychotherapists that an intimate human relationship is good for you. None other than Freud himself once famously said that health requires success in work and in love.

I’m not so sure. It seems that for some people, love and intimacy might not just be undesirable but downright toxic.

Not long ago, a man consulted me about his 35-year-old son, who had made a suicide attempt.

“I was shocked, because he never seemed depressed or unhappy in his life,” the man said of his son. “He always preferred his own company, so we were relieved when he started to date.”

He went on to tell me that he and his wife had strongly encouraged their son to become engaged to a woman he was dating. “She was perfect for him,” he recalled. “Warm, intelligent and affectionate.”

Everything seemed to be going well until, one day, the father got a call from his son’s girlfriend. She had not heard from the son for several days, so she went to his apartment and found him semiconscious in a pool of blood. He had taken an overdose of sleeping pills and slit his wrists.

This struck me in light of the holidays and the annual wave of depression that hits so many people. Why would family or friends highlight those things that single people already have a sensitivity about because of a lifetime of family expectations and social pressure to live up to what they all claim is the one and only acceptable norm. You must be with someone to be happy.

So many of our rights have taken a beating in the last six years that this story seems almost like something from the odd and unusual news department, U.S. Copyright Office Issues New Rights

Cell phone owners will be allowed to break software locks on their handsets in order to use them with competing carriers under new copyright rules announced Wednesday.

Other copyright exemptions approved by the Library of Congress will let film professors copy snippets from DVDs for educational compilations and let blind people use special software to read copy-protected electronic books.

All told, Librarian of Congress James H. Billington approved six exemptions, the most his Copyright Office has ever granted. For the first time, the office exempted groups of users. Previously, Billington took an all-or-nothing approach, making exemptions difficult to justify.

“I am very encouraged by the fact that the Copyright Office is willing to recognize exemptions for archivists, cell phone recyclers and computer security experts,” said Fred von Lohmann, an attorney with the civil-liberties group Electronic Frontier Foundation. “Frankly I’m surprised and pleased they were granted.”

But von Lohmann said he was disappointed the Copyright Office rejected a number of exemptions that could have benefited consumers, including one that would have let owners of DVDs legally copy movies for use on Apple Computer Inc.’s iPod and other portable players.

The new rules will take effect Monday and expire in three years.

That is bad news for video iPod owners. It is my understanding that one can make a back up copy of a DVD, why it can’t be backed up to an Apple computer and transferred to an iPod seems to be one of those esoteric exceptions that people are getting a little fed up with in regards to digital rights management.

“It is quite lovely being single, and I much prefer it.” – Anna Held

“Think what a better world it would be if we all, the whole world, had cookies and milk about three o’clock every afternoon and then lay down on our blankets for a nap.” – Barbara Jordan

Art will remain the most astonishing activity of mankind born out of struggle between wisdom and madness

Remember the house staffer accused of leaking the National Intelligence Estimate saying the Iraq war had become a prime recruiting tool for terrorists. The right-wing Republican blogs were all set to sentence the leaker to water boarding and solitary confinement. He has been cleared House Staff Member Cleared in Inquiry on Leak of Iraq Intelligence Estimate

Mr. Hoekstra said at the time that he thought Mr. Hanauer might have been a source for an article on Sept. 24 in The New York Times about a National Intelligence Estimate saying the Iraq war had become a cause célèbre for terrorists.

Mr. Hanauer had obtained a copy of the classified study at the request of a Democratic panel member, Representative John F. Tierney of Massachusetts, shortly before it was described in the article.

Democrats on the committee protested that the accusation was groundless and unfair and that Mr. Hanauer had merely properly responded to a routine request from a member.

They said Mr. Hoekstra’s action was payback for a decision by the committee’s ranking Democrat, Representative Jane Harman of California, to release a report by an outside counsel into actions on the committee by former Representative Randy Cunningham, a California Republican now serving a prison term for taking bribes.

A spokesman for the panel, Jamal D. Ware, confirmed that “the suspended staff member has had his accesses restored at the committee,” a development first reported on Tuesday by The Washington Post.

A Congressional official who insisted on anonymity said the internal inquiry, conducted by committee lawyers, involved having Mr. Hanauer sign an affidavit and answer questions.

In a statement, Ms. Harman said, “All of us are pleased that our valued staff member is back at work and that this meritless inquiry is over.”

Mr. Hanauer’s lawyer, Jonathan Turley, said Mr. Hanauer had been vilified on the Web and by anonymous callers, some of whom threatened him, called him a traitor and said he should face a firing squad.

“We are grateful that this long nightmare for Larry and his family is now over,” Mr. Turley said. “It is regrettable that it took this long, given the total absence of any evidence linking Larry to the New York Times articles.”

Goodness knows we wouldn’t want the American public to know anymore about the disaster at all levels that is Bush’s Iraq invasion. Bush has done for terrorist recruitment then ten Bin Ladens and we don’t want that leaking out because it spoils the Right’s messianic view of Bush and the decisions he has made.

Robert Altman: A rogue cinematic player steeped in the art of ambiguity

And Altman made a lot of them, and now there won’t be any more. Life goes on, but every life must end. Robert Altman’s exit, while hardly unexpected – he had undergone a heart transplant sometime in the 1990s – is nonetheless jolting to his admirers. We had grown accustomed to his stamina and his refusal to fade away even when the whims of the film industry seemed to turn against him.

Fans of a certain age will remember the succession of films from the 1970s – from “M*A*S*H” to “A Wedding,” passing through “McCabe & Mrs. Miller,” “Nashville,” and “3 Women” – that seemed at once to come out of nowhere and to reveal the central truths of their place and time. Those of us who came a bit later will recall encountering those movies on scratchy prints in revival houses or college cafeterias, and marveling at their energy and strangeness.

Altman’s reputation as a film maker is sealed, he was was of the true auteurs. Yet as I read in an article about Picasso a few months ago it is a mistake to place artists like Altman on too high a pedestal. His little battles with others in the film industry were legendary. Perhaps that is all part of the process of art, and film making in particular, to constantly battle for your vision, not to mention the inevitable clash of egos. To single out a an Altman film is daunting. Almost all of them succeeded at a certain level. He was like an explorer that went off investigating society and he presented what he found. Culture was his lost city or rare Asian leopard. I thought that McCabe & Mrs. Miller was an especially brave film. Usually in a movie death is Shakespearean, larger then life. Altman showed death in McCabe as an event that largely goes unnoticed and unnoted. Death was intimate, personal. Not to mention that Altman opened up a version of the history of the west that probably still rubs some people the wrong way- a west of booze, gold, greed, and opium. Not exactly your John Wayne fairy tale.

“Art will remain the most astonishing activity of mankind born out of struggle between wisdom and madness, between dream and reality in our mind.” – Magdalena Abakanowicz: