American Samizdat Guernica
Saturday, January 10, 2004
Bush Admin planned Iraq War before 9/11?

So this is big news. It's even on the mainstream news wires, but O'Neill's admission of this only confirms what one could have found elsewhere with sufficient research. Yes, they planned this war right up front.

But what O'Neill missed is even bigger. They also planned the Afghanistan War at the same time. And it was about the same thing and planned by the same person.

Election Strategies:

Insiders say that Katherine "Ms. Kitty" Harris is going to defy the White House and run for the US Senate seat from Florida being vacated by Bob Graham, who may be vying for the VP slot on the Democratic ticket come November. The White House is upset, fearing a massive Democratic backlash against Harris's role during the 2000 election, when she illegally turned her then Secretary of State office into a Vote-for-Bush war room. Of course, there is also the massive illegal disenfranchisement of almost 100,000 Florida black voters that she spearheaded under Governor Jeb Bush, something the White House certainly doesn't want any press given to.

The White House is backing former HUD cabineteer Mel Martinez, popular with the state's Latino community that they so much want to attract, and with that sort of backing, Martinez should be a shoe-in over Harris, right? Well, not so fast. Mr. Martinez has had some past friendships with local Democrats, a violation of the loyalty oath now demanded by of Republican hopefuls, and then there is the matter of Governor Jeb.

The President's brother, it seems, is quite territorial, and is none too happy about being left with an underfunded "No Child Left Behind" mandate by his brother. He's told the White House to back off, a wish that most brothers would perhaps honor. The problem is, Karl Rove is not Jeb's brother.

But why is Jeb being so territorial about a Harris candidacy that might undermine his brother's chance at re-election? Well it seems that there is some avid speculation (dubbed "The Rumor") that Jeb and Kitty are or have been somewhat of an "item", much to the chagrin of Jeb's wife, Columba, who through a hissy-fit during one of Kitty's visits to the governor's mansion. Well, all's fair in love and war, and besides, don't Republican's think that women are supposed to screw their way to the top?

Speaking of Harris and her successful black voter disenfranchisement campaign, the corporate controlled media is now dutifully reporting a Republican "goal" of attracting 25% of the Black vote in the 2004 campaign. Nonsence! reports The BLACK CoMMentator:
Racial appeals are essential to the GOP’s formula in its southern heartland, the base upon which it builds national electoral victories. Just one year ago, President Bush chose the week of Dr. Martin Luther King’s birthday to restate his opposition to affirmative action, a theatrically timed message to the party’s race-base. Could such a party really be longing for an influx of ordinary Black voters into their Deep South precinct gatherings? Of course not.

The Republican Party’s central strategic concern is to suppress or contain the Black vote at any and every opportunity, through gerrymandering, election day challenges and intimidation, voter rolls purges, theft of ballots, felony disenfranchisement – every trick in the proverbial book. George Bush lives in the White House because of a successful assault on Black voting rights in Florida. He hopes to repeat the process in November. ...

So, where did the Republicans come up with the goal of capturing 25 percent of the Black vote? From nowhere – they just made it up and threw it out there to give the lie an air of earnestness, in the certain knowledge that corporate media would treat absolute nonsense as serious, newsworthy political business. Just as assuredly, African Americans would seize on the figure as containing some morsel of meaning, and start looking around to see if there was something that they had missed. The fantasy figure also provided an opening for hacks like Jonetta Rose Barras to write opinion pieces for papers like the Washington Post.

The article is of course much longer and as typical of this publication, very well researched.

The BLACK CoMMentator also has a fabulous political cartoon with this article which you can view here. The BLACK CoMMentator comes out every Thursday. Bookmark it. It is simply one of the best written alternative weeklies there is.

The Bush Administration began laying plans for an invasion of Iraq, including the use of American troops, within days of President Bush's inauguration in January of 2001 -- not eight months later after the 9/11 attacks as has been previously reported.

That's what former Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill says in his first interview about his time as a White House insider. O'Neill talks to Correspondent Lesley Stahl in the interview, to be broadcast on 60 Minutes, Sunday, Jan. 11 at 7 p.m. ET/PT.

"From the very beginning, there was a conviction that Saddam Hussein was a bad person and that he needed to go," he tells Stahl. "For me, the notion of pre-emption, that the U.S. has the unilateral right to do whatever we decide to do is a really huge leap."

O'Neill, fired by the White House for his disagreement on tax cuts, is the main source for an upcoming book, "The Price of Loyalty," authored by Ron Suskind.

Suskind says O'Neill and other White House insiders he interviewed gave him documents that show that in the first three months of 2001, the administration was looking at military options for removing Saddam Hussein from power and planning for the aftermath of Saddam's downfall -- including post-war contingencies like peacekeeping troops, war crimes tribunals and the future of Iraq's oil.
Friday, January 09, 2004
Two leading Silicon Valley chief executives, reacting Wednesday to criticism they've shipped too many high-tech jobs overseas, defended hiring workers in India and China and warned that the United States and particularly California were in danger of losing their competitive edge to the Far East.

"There is no job that is America's God-given right anymore," said Carly Fiorina, chairman of Palo Alto information technology giant Hewlett Packard.

Well, that is exactly what one would expect a CEO who was shipping high-tech (and high-paying) jobs overseas. We simply must get more competitive. So just how much more competitive?

CountryAverage Programmer Salary
United States$60,000 - $80,000
Canada$28,174
China$8,952
India$5,880 - $11,000

And mind you, China and India pay no benefits.

It is time to address this for exactly what it is. We are letting these corporations effectively import grossly cheap labor into this country. No, they don't actually come here, but the products of their brains do, and that is effectively the same thing if you are an American software developer.

These corporations spout their "free trade" arguments, saying that as American workers are displaced by cheaper foreign workers, they will move to higher paying jobs. Higher paying than a software developer? Hell, there are doctors in India interpreting our X-rays! For what? To free up our doctors for higher paying jobs?

This is garbage, and we need to start voting for people who understand this.

Thank God!
The terror alert has been lowered to yellow.

 Today's Terror 
 Threat Level: 
Feel safer yet ?

I feel safer now.

"A blind man in a room full of deaf people."
Who said it? No, not Dean or Clark or Gore or Sharpton — a member of Bush's own Cabinet (WaPo):
Former U.S. Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill likened President Bush at Cabinet meetings to "a blind man in a room full of deaf people," according to excerpts Friday from a CBS interview.

O'Neill, who was fired by Bush in December 2002, also said the president did not ask him a single question during their first one-on-one meeting, which lasted an hour.

"As I recall it was just a monologue," he told CBS' "60 Minutes," which will broadcast the entire interview Sunday.

In making the blind man analogy, O'Neill told CBS his ex-boss did not encourage a free flow of ideas or open debate.

"There is no discernible connection," CBS quoted O'Neill as saying. The president's lack of engagement left his advisers with "little more than hunches about what the president might think," O'Neil said, according to the program.

CBS said much of O'Neill's criticisms of Bush are included in "The Price of Loyalty," an upcoming book by former Wall Street Journal reporter Ron Suskind.
O'Neill was fired for his hand in demonstrating how Bush's insane tax cuts contribute to $44 trillion in chronic US deficits.

"Blind," "no discernible connection," "lack of engagement" — he's the Stepford president.
The Bush administration is launching an effort to persuade the United Nations to return to Iraq in coming months and to support the U.S. plan for transferring governing power to Iraqis by June 30.

The emerging U.S. strategy will be outlined Friday by John D. Negroponte, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, and Britain's U.N. envoy Emyr Jones Perry, in a closed-door meeting with U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan, according to U.S. and U.N. officials.
Thursday, January 08, 2004
For any who took the time to download an review the Move-On Bushin 30 Seconds finalists, you undoubtably saw "Army of One", a quite powerful video contrasting Bush's veteren's benefits cuts with our soldiers' deaths and injuries in his service. This ad was actually based on the original "Army of One" flash video by Take Back the Media. If ads could last three minutes, this one would have beaten all of them. It wouldn't have even been close.
If you are concerned about the freedom the World Wide Web offers us to share information you need to read"The Digital Imprimatur: How big brother and big media can put the Internet genie back in the bottle" By John Walker. It is lengthy but comprehensive.

Are we in America on our way to being a digital Singapore?
At last, someone has finally dared to say what is obvious from the evidence: That the Afghanistan War was not about Osama bin Laden; that it was actually about an oil pipeline. Maybe it should have been about bin Laden; it just wasn't.

Ted Rall reports from YaHooNews:

NEW YORK--So where's the pipeline?

In 2001 common sense, expert opinion and extensive research convinced me and other Central Asia watchers that the United States didn't have much interest in saving Buddha statues or Afghan women when it went to war against the Taliban. After we turned down their offer to extradite Osama, it became obvious that we weren't interested in capturing the alleged mastermind of 9/11 either. Logic and evidence indicated that the Bush Administration's focused on Afghanistan to make it secure for a pipeline to carry oil and natural gas from the landlocked Caspian Sea.

Ted gets into a lot of the background details, many of which I had not yet found, but he also misses some very important ones and especially their timing and parallels to Iraq. I'll have much more on this later.
From Alan Bisbort of the Hartford Advocate:
When the story of the leak broke in September (Novak's story ran in July), Bush feigned cooperation with a Department of Justice probe. Bush did what he does best: lied with a straight smirk. That is, he actually told a roomful of reporters, "I don't know if we're going to find out the senior administrative official. This is a large administration and there's a lot of senior officials." ...

Now, months later, Attorney General John Ashcroft has recused himself from the probe and turned it over to a Chicago-based investigator.

And yet, for the three months that Ashcroft sat on the case, things had been allowed to go on as they always had with this administration. A castrated press dutifully files press releases as news stories, accepting denials of criminality by the White House staff. Clearly, something is rotten in Denmark, and no doubt Rove and Cheney are slithering around the back cubicles of the Executive Office Building like Shakespearean villains looking for fall guys.

It is time for Bush's own John Dean to level with him, to tell him in no uncertain terms that there's a cancer on his presidency and it is growing. More to the point, there's a criminal loose in the White House, a person (or persons) so dangerous that they would gladly jeopardize national security for short-term political gain.

Damage Control
Following hot on the heels of yesterday's Washington Post report that the US WMD inspection teams had turned up no evidence of any active development programs there since 1991, the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace has released a major report stating that Bush administration officials "systematically misrepresented" the threat from Iraq's weapons of mass destruction in the run-up to war, that Iraq in fact posed no imminent threat to the United States, it's own Middle East neighbors, or the world in general, and that containment actions and sanctions had been sufficient to remove any such threat. (In other words, there was no reason for the war, or at least none that were publically stated.) The New Yorks Times also reports today that 400 weapons inspectors have been withdrawn from continuing search efforts in Iraq. (In other words, they're not much even looking anymore.)

So who's on the hook? Colin Powell, who said in a State Department press conference today, "In terms of intention, he always had it." (The old "well he wanted them" spin.) Of Carnegie's finding that Iraq posed no imminent threat, Powell said: "They did not say it wasn't there." (Excuse me, but isn't that exactly what Saddam said in his 9,000 page weapons declaration statement a year or so back?) Naturally, Fox News was hot to report Powell's comments, though they had failed earlier to report the Washington Post report, the Carnegie report, and the New York Times report. Fair and balanced enough?

Wednesday, January 07, 2004
It occurred to me that American Samizdat probably gets more hits than Better Humans, where this originally appeared. By the way, any rich guy could do this. I figure a million a paper. Seventeen rich guys could fund seventeen papers. I have a dream. I should also add that Better Humans is, from what I've seen, a left of center attempt to define science and figure out how it can help people, a kind of left wing Tech Central Station, which I've also written for. For the links, check out the original piece here. Please support it by adding your intelligent voices to its comments section.

AN OPEN LETTER TO GEORGE SOROS


Dear George Soros,

I have followed your career now for quite some time. I have always admired you because I find you to be that rarefied thing: The Enlightened Super-capitalist—or at least the capitalist who doesn't cringe at the thought of nationalized health care and decent treatment for the working class.

In fact, I have always dreamt that you're the kind of man with the vision to attempt to do things better. I imagine that you would endorse a transhumanist kind of space colony in which direct democracy is the norm and self-evolution is the rule. The first Martian metropolis could use a sponsor, and I nominate you. And hey, there's a lot of money in alien antiquities and asteroid belt rare materials in which you could have a percentage stake. Or how does the role of Martian fed chairman strike you? You and Elon Musk should have a nice long talk. There's nothing I would approve of more than a decent billionaire becoming a decent trillionaire.

Unfortunately, it's hard to dream of the stars when we're watching the Earth go to ruin. And as I bring my gaze from the future to the present, I can't help but notice that you have a healthy contempt for President George Bush Jr. Your recent piece in The Atlantic Monthly aptly expressed some of the biggest problems with the current regime: A simple unilateral approach to world problems, a relentless pattern of lying and bribery (your use of the word "doublespeak" was especially telling) and, most importantly, the recognition that if other nation states were to adopt our preemptive "strategery," the world would become a much more dangerous place. I concur. He's also very very bad on science policy, which we Betterhumans.com writers have a problem with. You can read about that here, here and here.

What's most encouraging is that you're not just content to write essays about the problem. You also put your money where your mouth is. It's estimated that you've already pledged $20 million (all figures, naturally, US) of your estimated $10 billion fortune to defeat Bush next fall. You're to be congratulated, but it will probably take a lot more money than that to do it.

And it will take some real new media—not just new forms, but new owners and voices. If the American Progressive movement, which believes in most if not all of what your Open Society Institute espouses, is to thrive then it must create a compelling consensual media of its own.

The Open Society network

I think it's important to get into the media business. I might note that this goes well beyond just electing anybody but Bush. It means penetrating the GOP-leaning Dog Fancy Truman Show media reality of the US, where a mediocre man such as our current president can get elected in the first place primarily with public relations methods. There needs to be an Open Society version of television's Fox News. There needs to be an Open Society version of Clear Channel radio. And there needs to be an Open Society version of the American daily newspaper that does not routinely endorse Republicans or retrograde Republican policies.

I think that the way to do this is through the Internet, because I think that it would be quickest and cheapest. A long time ago, during a discussion with Ted Rall, I actually wrote up an outline for how you can staff an online paper for $1 million. (The only thing I'm worried about is out-of-control healthcare costs. Here's an idea for a billionaire investor: Create a nonprofit health insurance company whose only goal is to break even.) True, buying CNN or MSNBC might be more effective, but most likely by the time you finalized those deals (if the GOP FCC would even allow you to do it) Bush will have bought off the next election. You can create an Internet presence right now.

Best of all, the Internet offers a way for you to create Open Society radio, television and print portals all at once. Democracy Now, a legitimately left-wing news show, is already showing you how this can be done. I might note that they could use more money, in case you're wondering what outlets would tell you where the protests are.

Battleground business

So, my scheme is this: Use the business plan I've outlined above and put staff in 15 to 17 of the battleground states. These are states such as Louisiana, Pennsylvania, Missouri and Arkansas. Think of this as the logical extension to what you're already doing with America Coming Together. You could have them up and running in several months. All it takes is money. This won't be an unlimited amount of money, I might add. In fact, the goal of these publications is to become financially self-sufficient. I think that's very possible. At $1 million per state publication (and a good penny pincher could lower those costs), you're looking at an investment of $17 million. And if you're serious about beating Bush then you're looking at an investment of $100 million. I would use the remaining $83 million on countering Bush ad buys in the battleground states, but that's just me and my imaginary $100 million.

I might note that with Webcams and broadband you can watch the various headquarters. And don't just limit it to politics. Create a number of video channels. It would be nice to have 24-hour video stations dedicated to jazz and new classical, or rock music for people who are older than 13. Think of yourself as a privatized NPR that aspires to be an American BBC. No one could stop you. All it takes is money, fueled by an appropriate sense of political outrage at the supremacist policies of the Bush administration.

It seems to me that you are one of the few people who can pull this off, a kind of American Gorbachev, who will do what's best for his country and the world even if it flies against the interests of his elite class. Consider this my application to help build an American 24 Hours. If we don't prevent a Bush reelection, then you're looking at the prospect of a horrific future, an unsexy unattainable future. A kind of top-down future in which only the rich get the decent stem cell treatments and our lives are like the worst of both 1984 and Brave New World. There are only 11 months left before the election. I'm ready to get to work.


 

So that's what it has all come down to: Nothing but paper rockets. Two CDs that fit into the pocket of a brilliant Iraqi rocket designer. Ideas for a development program that never left the drawing board. Undeclared during the UNMOVIC visits, yes, but never more than electronic paper, and only a delivery system without a payload. No WMDs, and the sum total of banned weapon "development" found by David Kay's US WMD inspection team.

A lengthy and detailed article from today's Washington Post. Of course, Kay's group has found much more, and even some significant and credible planning for WMDs, but they seem to share a common characteristic: they were abandoned shortly after our first war against Iraq. And Kay's group discovered something else: an official high-level Iraqi memo saying that the UNSCOM and CIA 1995 debriefings of defector Hussein Kamel, then leader of Iraqi weapons development, were both correct and complete in his claims that Iraq had abondoned fully the development of banned weapons. [The UNSCOM debriefing transcript (PDF) of Kamel's testimony to them was available on the internet prior to the start of our second Iraq war and he explicitly stated in it, "All weapons-- biological, chemical, missile, nuclear, were destroyed." (See also the FAIR media advisory on this.) The CIA debriefing is not, but is reported to be almost identical in matters of fact.]

David Kay of course is leaving as head of the that inspection team, and why not? Much of his staff has been reassigned to counter-insurgency intelligence, and of course they are needed there. You have to give Kay some well due credit however. There must have been some very real pressure on him to shill his findings for the press, and clearly, he did a fairly good job at not doing that, especially given the initial doubts of those who opposed the war.

But the inspection teams, reduced as they are, will continue their work, perhaps for another year -- or if you are counting, until after the elections.

And so we have paper rockets ... and 9,000 dead.

Tuesday, January 06, 2004
The Labor Department is giving employers tips on how to avoid paying overtime to some of the 1.3 million low-income workers who would become eligible under new rules expected to be finalized early this year.

The department's advice comes even as it touts the $895 million in increased wages that it says those workers would be guaranteed from the reforms.

Among the options for employers: cut workers' hourly wages and add the overtime to equal the original salary, or raise salaries to the new $22,100 annual threshold, making them ineligible.

The department says it is merely listing well-known choices available to employers, even under current law.

"We're not saying anybody should do any of this," said Labor Department spokesman Ed Frank. [more]
Police investigators are attempting to throw responsibility on Indymedia Israel's operators, for publications appearing in the "open publishing zone" of the website. This is done illegally and against the recommendations of a professional committee of the Israel Ministry of Justice.

The Indymedia Israel website provides a free and open stage for surfers on the Internet. Approximately three weeks ago, a surfer outside of Israel published a caricature in the open publishing zone of the website, in which the Israeli Prime Minister is portrayed passionately kissing the leader of Nazi Germany. Subsequent to this, the Attorney General of Israel ordered the opening of an investigation against the website's administrators, for incitement and insulting a public figure.
...
Shamai Leibowitz, lawyer for Indymedia Israel, adds : "This is a dangerous attempt by the Israeli government, to quash Freedom of Speech and the Freedom to Disseminate Information. It uses fear and threats in order to suppress critique of the Israeli government and what is occurring in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. This police investigation reminds us, to our deep regret, of the situation in the book 1984 by George Orwell."
Monday, January 05, 2004
RNC's deceitful "Bush-Hitler" attack on MoveOn.org a huge success
Let's say you have a blog. And on that blog you allow your visitors to comment. In fact, you encourage it. And then one of your visitors leaves a comment that says something really nasty--let's say, oh, an accusation that former President Bill Clinton is a serial murderer who routinely killed his political enemies and was a genocidal war criminal to boot. Nasty, over-the-top, untrue.

You say, "Whatever," shrug, and move on, giving the nasty comment no further attention, as it is just one among hundreds on your popular blog.

Now imagine that one day, weeks later, you wake up to read this headline: "[Your Blog Name] Under Fire Over Outrageous Murder Accusations!" The story that follows describes your nasty visitor's nasty words, which you had long ago forgotten, and has fresh quotes from survivors of real genocidal war criminals condemning your blog for treating the issue so lightly and making such an outrageous comparison.

The phone rings. It's a reporter, demanding that you defend your blog's accusation that Bill Clinton is a serial murderer and genocidal war criminal.

"But it was a comment, submitted by someone else," you say. "I didn't author it. I don't even agree with it. In fact, all my regular commenters at the blog criticized the guy for saying it."

"But it was on your blog, that's what you're saying, right?"

"Well, yeah, it was...on my blog. You could put it that way."

"Good enough for me!"

And the reporter, knowing a good story when he sees one, writes about how your reaction indicated you didn't realize the seriousness of your publication of an accusation that Bill Clinton is a serial murderer and genocidal war criminal.

"It cheapens the real horror that we all went through for [Your Name] to compare Bill Clinton to real genocidal war criminals," a Holocaust survivor is quoted as saying in the story.

And as the tale spreads, this is what becomes the commonly known version of what should have been a trivial event: [Your Blog Name] is a tasteless purveyor of Clinton hatred.

Turns out that one of your enemies had manipulated the whole thing by presenting the nasty comment on your blog to reporters as having a much more direct connection to you than it ever had. The reporters kind of blurred their eyes and let it turn into a juicier story than it ever had a right to be.

Lucky you.

Change a few details, and that's exactly what happened to MoveOn.org this week.

The facts:

1. Weeks ago, MoveOn.org announced a "Bush In 30 Seconds" contest in which contestants would submit TV ads (theme: "tell the truth" about Bush) that they made themselves. MoveOn.org's members would watch the submitted ads online and rate them. The highest rated ones would go to a celebrity panel of judges. The winning ad would actually be aired on TV.

2. By its submission deadline, MoveOn had received 1500 ad submissions, about a thousand more than they had expected. The submissions ranged from amateurish spots slapped together in iMovie to slick, professionally produced political spots. MoveOn had a panel review each submission for copyright and election law violations (and those violations only) before posting the submissions as QuickTime movies on the Bush In 30 Seconds website. MoveOn members then logged in and watched one ad after another, rating them on various qualities.

3. Software aggregated these results and the highest rated 15 spots were announced today. These fifteen will be reviewed by a panel of lefty celebrity judges (including Michael Moore and Margaret Cho). Today's announcement was to be a big deal for MoveOn, as they were proud of the innovative contest they sponsored and were also proud of the 15 finalists that resulted.

But behind the scenes, the Republican National Committee had been plotting all along to sabotage today's announcement. "Liberal Group Reveals Citizen-Made Ads" was not the headline they wanted in this news cycle.

It turns out that among those 1500 submissions, two advertisements compared President Bush to Hitler. These ads were very low-rated and didn't get anywhere close to becoming finalists. The MoveOn membership did not like them and essentially rejected them with its votes.

But the Republican National Committee found one of these two losing submissions. And it copied it. And when the moment was right, just before MoveOn was to make its announcement of the 15 finalists, the RNC released its bomb.

This updated press release, released after the "shocking" discovery of the second Hitler ad (both conveniently available on the RNC website), gives you an idea of the spin, which the press was happy to run with:

MoveOn.org Should Apologize for Ads Comparing Bush to Hitler

Republican National Committee Chairman Ed Gillespie today made the following statement regarding a second ad posted on the MoveOn.org Web site comparing President Bush to Adolf Hitler and calls from Jewish leaders for MoveOn.org to apologize for posting the ads...


Drudge headlines today:

MOVEON.ORG FEATURES AD COMPARING BUSH TO HITLER: ONLINE CONTEST TO MAKE BEST SPOT TURNS VICIOUS....

SECOND BUSH/HITLER AD APPEARS AT MOVEON.ORG...

SIMON WIESENTHAL CENTER CRITICIZES POSTING...

ADL Says Hitler Ad Should Never Have Appeared.


The New York Times headline? "Critics Attack Efforts to Link Bush and Hitler." Never mind that these "efforts" to link Bush and Hitler were undertaken by two contestants in a field of 1500, whose ads were rejected by the MoveOn membership. (The NYT story itself is more fair than the headline.)

The only thing missing was an "Indeed" from InstaPundit Glenn Reynolds, but he's busy at a conference and isn't keeping up with the news.

You can see the ads at the Republican National Committee website. In a final sad irony, because the ads were created by the contestants to become (they hoped) MoveOn.org official advertisements, one of the Bush-Hitler ads contains the closing graphic: "SPONSORED BY MOVEON.ORG"

Of course, it wasn't sponsored by MoveOn. But I wouldn't expect the RNC to make that clear.

(Originally posted to Blogcritics.)
Where the extreme left and extreme right meet?
Or, how does a Trotskyite become a neoconservative?

Periodically over the past several weeks I've summarized some of my thoughts on Bob Altemeyer's work on right-wing authoritarianism (RWA). One question that I have received in my classes and in correspondence is in regard to left-wing authoritarianism (LWA). The usual suspects get mentioned, such as Stalinists and Maoists who come across as hyper-authoritarian in their own right. I recall myself reading through some Communist party literature back in the mid-to-late 1980s that struck me as very similar to Pat Buchanan, just with Marxist rhetoric instead of the usual fundamentalist Christian rhetoric. I've wondered from time to time how presumably devout Trotskyites can morph into the right-wing extremist neoconservatives that today influence the highest echelons of the US government. I've mentioned also here before that I've had my own run-ins with Stalinist individuals in progressive and anti-racist university organizations as an undergrad. So there is an interesting (and empirical) question: do right-wingers truly have a monopoly on authoritarianism. The answer, if one accepts the work of Bob Altemeyer, is "not quite."

In the 1990s, Altemeyer attempted to develop a scale to measure LWA, based on fairly similar dimensions as his RWA scale. Recall that the RWA scale was defined by three dimensions: authoritarian submission, authoritarian aggression, and conventionalism. The definition of LWA is also based on three dimensions, but with a twist: authoritarian submission to those dedicated to overthrowing the establishment, authoritarian aggression against perceived established authorities, as long as it's advocated by revolutionary authorities; and conventionalism in terms of strongly adhering to the norms of behavior endorsed by revolutionary authorities. In other words, high LWAs differ from high RWAs only in the sense that they subscribe to different authorities. If a leader of a revolutionary organization's cell makes a command, a high LWA will in theory be prone to obey that order. If the revolutionary leaders advocate vandalism or bombings of targeted buildings, a high LWA will be more prone, in theory, to follow through with such actions. If the revolutionary leaders wear combat fatigues, black armbands, and berets, you can be rest assured that a high LWA would do likewise -- again, in theory.

So, we have the theory. How does the theory pan out in reality? Not that well, although something interesting happens. Altemeyer discovered that nobody in his sample scored above the moderate point on the LWA scale. However, in the process of comparing it and scores on the RWA scale, Altemeyer found four combinations of individuals:

1. Non-authoritarians: these are people who score low on both the RWA and LWA scales. They seem to follow the old hippie slogan of "do your own thing, just don't hurt anyone." Personal note: I probably fall in this category.

2. Left-wingers: these are people who score relatively higher on the LWA scale than others, and who score low on the RWA scale, although none of these individuals come anywhere close to advocating overthrow of the establishment. These individuals may be seen as reformers, as liberals, social democrats, and the like. They might even show up at an anti-war demonstration or two, but they're not going to be overthrowing any established government anytime too soon.

3. Right-wingers: these are people who score high on the RWA scale and low on the LWA scale. These are the standard right-wing authoritarians, who support the established order and have no interest in overthrowing that order.

4. Wild-card authoritarians. These cats are the most interesting. The tend to be relatively high scorers on the LWA scale and also score high on the RWA scale. These are people who seem to believe in submission, aggression, and conventionalism per se, would probably ordinarily support the established order, but would be hip to overthrowing that established order if they perceived it to be corrupt or evil.

So where do the militant Stalinists and Maoists fit in? How about the militant Islamists or the militia groups? I would be willing to wager that many of these individuals would be wild-card authoritarians. Once the established order is overthrown and they themselves become the establishment, they will behave just like typical RWAs. I think we could look at the history of the former USSR or the Chinese Communists as excellent examples of what happens when wild-card authoritarians gain control of a nation and establish their own order. Lenin, Stalin and Mao might be good candidates for wild-card authoritarians. Think too of how orthodox Stalinists act once out of power. In the former Soviet Union, for example, the remnants of the Communist Party either joined newly formed nationalist parties or remained nominally communists but became allies with the nationalists. Same with so-called socialists in contemporary Serbia who are really more or less right-wing nationalists.

The neocons in the US? Possibly they too are good candidates for wild-card authoritarians -- at least those whose personal history started out as true believers of Trotskyite orthodoxy.

Implicit in my discussion above is the notion that the old left-right political spectrum is over-simplistic. Yes, there are people who can be readily identified as left-wingers and right-wingers, but there are some noticeable deviations that don't fit neatly in that spectrum. The non-authoritarians aren't really "leftists" although many may consider themselves Greens, or anarchists. Other non-authoritarians identify themselves as Libertarians, and seem to espouse a fairly pure form of lassez-faire capitalism. But what holds all of these non-authoritarians together is a general willingness to live and let live, a tendency to not interfer in others' choices, and so forth. The wild-card authoritarians too are hard to fit into the old spectrum. Some of them do belong to what we might think of as standard RWA social, religious and party affiliations but could change their tune if the established order appears to fail them. Other wild-card authoritarians are involved with revolutionary movements and may engage in what we think of as "left-wing" rhetoric but will change their tune once they assume the mantle of "the establishment."

Some food for thought.
Sunday, January 04, 2004
 
Poverty didn't exist in Alabama before the
secularists attacked Judge Roy Black.

BTW: Mouse-over the photo.

The Dance of Denial
(This entry was first posted on Blogcritics, a generally conservative site, where you can comment if you want to drive some people nuts.

Inspections.

At the risk of making pro-warriors uncomfortable by mentioning a word they once loved to discuss but now treat as forbidden, I would point out that the inspections that were being conducted under the auspices of the U.N. before the Iraq war did not result in tens of thousands of casualties and the destruction of much of Iraq's infrastructure. Also they didn't cost $200 billion. Also they were working.

Yet pro-warriors often act as if military action were a choice thrust upon us. As if there weren't a clear alternate choice at the time President Bush chose war: Allow the inspections to finish. As if the consensus of the experts in the field was not that the inspections could come to a determination on the factual matter of Saddam's possession of WMD.

It is possible to imagine how the pro-war side could have been right and the anti-war "appeasers" wrong. If the inspections that were under way at the time Bush rushed into war had a) Run their course to the satisfaction of the international experts, and b) Also failed to discover actual WMD that they should have discovered, then the argument for military action over inspections would be persuasive today.

But that's not what happened.

The pro-war side finds it convenient to forget that they were arguing that the international team of experts assigned by the U.N. to determine if Iraq had WMD were incompetent and had no hope of finding the WMD that were surely in Iraq. Many pro-warriors went so far as to accuse Hans Blix of being corrupt and actively hiding evidence that Saddam had WMD. Just wait until the U.S. gets in and occupies Iraq, the pro-war side said, then you'll see how useless these inspections were.

In September 2002, Donald Rumsfeld flatly stated that Saddam "has at this moment stockpiles of chemical and biological weapons." Just before the war, he stated, "We know where [the WMD] are. They're in the area around Tikrit and Baghdad and east, west, south and north somewhat."

This was the case that got us into the war: Saddam has known stockpiles of WMD and the inspections are useless for finding them. "Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence," Rumsfeld said of the inspections.

Yet, today, in the absence of the promised discoveries, the pro-war side proceeds as if the key question at the start of the war wasn't whether the inspections were working. Many pro-warriors here at Blogcritics ridiculed those who said that we should rely on inspections to determine the WMD issue.

The international community--disparaged as a "debating society" that simply wouldn't acknowledge that there must be WMD stockpiles currently in Iraq--was practically screaming, If you're going to war based on the WMD issue, you may be making a huge mistake--let the inspections finish.

But Bush refused. The administration declared the prior conclusions of the inspectors wrong and said waiting would just prove them wrong again. Rumsfeld and other Bush administration figures did not say that they weren't sure about the WMD issue and that an invasion was the only way to make a determination. They said they were sure about the WMD and they knew that the inspections were simply failing to find them.

Inspections. Now that this word has gone down the pro-war memory hole, it's as if the inspections were not aborted for the war. It's as if that wasn't the road not taken.

My guess is that pro-warriors fear to imagine a realistic alternate scenario to war. Given the conditions at the time Bush rushed into battle, what might have happened if we'd gone the other way? What if Hans Blix had come to a determination within weeks that there were no WMD in Iraq?

We'll never know.

But I don't think pro-warriors spend a lot of time thinking about it, because they'd have to admit that inspections were Issue #1 at the time Bush rushed into war, and they'd have to admit that, in all probability, the pro-warriors were just plain wrong about the futility of the inspections. They were probably working.

It probably is possible to use a coercive inspections process with international experts to determine whether a country has WMD or does not. It probably is possible to spend $200B of U.S. taxpayer dollars in a better way than an invasion and occupation that turns out to discover exactly what would have been discovered by an inspections process that cost only millions.

And it probably is possible, perhaps, to use that $200B in a way that reduces more overall suffering, including rectifying human-rights violations, than invading Iraq, slaughtering and maiming tens of thousands of people, enduring an insurgency fight that costs still more lives, and possibly abandoning Iraq to the same kind of chaos and violence that led to the leadership of Saddam Hussein.

If we'd thought it out, we probably wouldn't have done it this way.

And that's why pro-warriors can't allow themselves to think about it.

It starts with ignoring the inspections, because it is obvious that the inspections process would likely have resulted in a finding of fact (are there WMD in Iraq?) in an astronomically less costly way.

So then there is the waltz over to the human-rights issue, because how can anyone defend Saddam's regime? (As if anyone did.)

But the pro-warrior then senses that his improvised human-rights argument is extremely weak, given the invasion's huge toll in lives, the uncertainty about whether the region will even be less violent as a result, and the near-complete lack of discussion beforehand about whether this was truly the best strategy to export democracy to those who don't have it.

Obviously, that discussion didn't happen because nobody in the Bush Administration could have made the case with a straight face that attacking Iraq would best bring democracy to those on the globe suffering under repressive regimes. The war was never planned with an eye toward reducing human suffering. Pro-warriors can make this argument only as long as nobody scrutinizes it.

Imagine if, before the Iraq war was even a thought, you were to say to the head of any reputable organization dealing with the issue of human rights, "I have $200 billion to spend and a huge army to deploy to help end human-rights violations on this planet. Is the best way to use these resources an invasion and occupation of Iraq?" You'd have gone deaf from the laughter.

So then there is the quick Texas two-step over to the terrorism issue: Saddam was behind 9-11, so the invasion was a just, self-defense-ish attack designed to retaliate and to keep future 9-11s from happening.

Except that, in all likelihood, Saddam wasn't linked to 9-11 in any significant way. In fact, upon scrutiny, the attempt by the Bush Administration to imply this connection and successfully cause the American public to believe that Saddam was connected to 9-11 is one of the most troubling aspects of the war. This craven, cynical strategy nearly proves that the administration knew it did not have a solid case for war and therefore had to employ deception on the American people.

So, the pro-warrior can't stay there long. It's time to dance again. How about we hustle on over to...um...Iraq was seeking weapons...of some kind. Yeah, that's the ticket.

And the dance starts again.

* * *


The United States faces two key threats to its security at this time: Terrorism and WMD proliferation. They are very real threats and require urgent action.

But the Iraq war has done nothing on the matter of WMD proliferation (because WMD were not likely there) and has had the opposite of its intended effect on the criminal gangs of terrorists who are our real enemies--it has inspired formerly non-radicalized Muslims to believe that the West does, indeed, intend another Crusade against their culture. War supporters may still be in denial, but the rest of the world is not--it's obvious to any observer that the war was launched with lies, so suspicion and speculation about real motives are virtually guaranteed.

The Iraq war has done nothing to weaken terrorists. The terrorists are not states. You can't destroy them merely by destroying a government. It's harder than that.

And the only truly effective way to reduce WMD proliferation is through international policing. The U.S. cannot solve the problem with invasions. (This is actually a good thing--because we can't possibly invade everywhere on the planet. But strong international policing of WMD is possible, with our cooperation.)

The Iraq war was a huge mistake. At a cost of tens of thousands of lives, at least 200,000,000,000 U.S. taxpayer dollars and much of the respect and goodwill of other nations who matter, we have managed to make the United States no more safe than before the invasion.

The sooner Iraq war advocates stop dancing around the facts, the sooner we can acknowledge the mistake and move on with strategies that really do make the United States more secure.
New FBI files obtained by the McCurtain Daily Gazette prompt some disturbing questions:

1) Why was the mysterious German national Andreas Carl Strassmeir - "wanted for questioning in the OKBOMB case at the time of his escape . . . was illegally in the U.S. at the time of his escape . . . had subsequently been listed by the U.S. State Department as a terrorist . . . and was considered armed and dangerous" - protected by the FBI and allowed to escape the US, despite suspicion of his involvement with the federal building bombing in Oklahoma City?

2) The SPLC had an informant at Elohim City at the time some suspect OKBOMB was plotted there. What did they know? And if they did know something, why were not the feds informed? Or were they?

There is also some new info that raises questions about Terry Nichols involvement.

An interesting read.
by valis
This was why the attack was planned.

This was where the attack was planned.

This was where the terrorists trained.

This was where they learned to fly.

These were the warnings.

This was the distraction.

This was where the "official" story was created.

This was the result.
  Ken Goti died:  
A good while ago actuallly. I didn't know because I had left my "homeless period" a good while back also. Kenny was with me during those years. You didn't hear about this because when someone like Ken Goti dies, it isn't newsworthy.

My "homeless period" lasted perhaps eight years. Though I was frequently homeless during that time, it was perhaps only a quarter of that time that I was actually homeless. I refer to it as my "homeless period" because during this time I was required to submit to outrageous demands simply to have a roof over my head. It might have been a motel room with cockroaches that took 90% of my minimum wage takehome pay, or it could just have been half the rent for one tenth of the benefits of where I stayed. It did not matter. Mostly, it beat sleeping under a tree. Not always, however. Once in a while, the demands got so outrageous that I would simply pack my stuff and go back to that tree.

I met Ken Goti early on during this time when I first went to a labor poll. Kenny had actually been a pilot on an aircraft carrier during his service years. He actually had steered one of those big ships for several years.

In a labor poll, most of the people you work with are not that good. That is perhaps why they are there. Others, however, are quite extraordinary. Kenny was one of these. He was the one that everyone else wanted to work with.

Though I knew nothing of the trades when I first when to these pools, I quickly became one of these few desired work partners. It's simply called getting the job done. A few of us (like Kenny) seemed to instictively know how to do this. That's why people followed us. People like us however needed to be spread across different contracts to quiet the protests of those who had hired our labor pool, and both of us were often sent out on a contract simply to quiet these protests. The hiring company would see that they had gotten someone who was real good, and they would be happy.

It was for this reason that it was actually many years before I ever got to work with Kenny. In fact, he requested me on his assignment. It was a great experience. Working with Kenny made working for minimum wage seem easy. There was a real sense when you were working with Kenny that your work actually made a difference. I've held many higher paid jobs since then, but none with more satisfaction that those few days provided. I was very good, and thought myself the best, but after those days working with Kenny, I understood that I was merely second best. Not below Kenny by much, but below just the same. I didn't mind it a bit though. Neither Kenny nor I were ever ones to make such comparisons back then, and I make mine here only in requium. But let me back up a little here.

By the time this had happened, my homeless period was ended. By this time, I knew quite well the almost insurmountable difficulties of escaping homelessness. I took it upon myself to try to provide that escape on many occasions to many people. A roof and no rent, and use it wisely. This was a disaster. I was being ripped off left and right. Until Kenny came along.

I was walking home one night when I encoutered him with his posssessions on his back. "What's up?" I asked. He also couldn't stand his roommate, and was going to the trees as I had often done before. I certainly by this time understood his sentiments, but I said no, come stay with me.

I told Kenny that I would not charge him rent; that to do so would only delay his exit from my offer. I also told him that I would not place a timelimit on the offer, knowing by this time how very difficult it is to escape homelessness.

Kenny took me up on my offer, and it was two weeks later that he said that he had gotten a place and was moving out. My only success in offering the help that I wanted to provide.

You have to understand what Kenny was. Kenny was forever reaching out. He was forever reaching out to his coworkers, inspiring them to be better. He was forever reaching out to his superiors, trying to show them that he was really that much better. And he really was that much better.

Ken Goti was reaching out as he always did when the scaffolding he was working on collapsed. Ken Goti died in that collapse. When he did, our country lost one of the best citizens it had.

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