Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Operation Enduring Propaganda

(Updated below) (Update II) (Update III)

While being assaulted by the continuous exposures of scandalous abuses of power, politicizing of the apparels of government and erasing the separation of church and state (one more example here), along with an increasing crescendo of calls for impeachment proceedings, the besieged Puppet Presidency and Unitary Regency have unleashed in recent weeks their true "surge" plans: unrelenting blitzkrieg-like, coordinated propaganda counter-strikes to sell the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, while making the case for more war in the Middle-East, through it all playing on the fear and insecurity of Americans. Why? Either to support a rush to establish a de facto American Empire, or to hasten a Second Coming-like Armageddon. Or both.

The Empire-to-be strikes back.

Not unlike the failing, inept and incompetent Roman emperors of old, the Bushies, their neoconservative supporters and their far-right fundamentalist Christian allies continue displaying an exaggerated sense of self-importance and destiny for the U.S.A., coupled with a myopic view of the world, for the sake of the advent of the Holy American Empire - the cherished grail of neoconservatives and evangelical fundamentalists alike.

Naturally, their demonstrated incompetence and the inherent near-impossibility of controlling a complex environment such as today's world has left them little choice but to fall back upon the ages old, illusory comforting stance of keeping the reigns of power firmly in hand while seeking to control the increasingly malcontent populace.

Hence their current Operation Enduring Propaganda, which is of course all about the politics of fear and ignorance.

Let us review how it has been playing out so far, shall we?

Step One - Keep reminding them of the threat posed by the Bogey Man: The convenient specter of terrorism has proven to be the perfect tool to keep the public cowed in fear - the motus oprandi here being "all we have to fear, we must". Consequently, the Puppet President warns America again of the ever-present threat of al-Qaeda, conflating Iraqi and Afghani insurgents, Sunnis and Shiites, and all Islamic terrorist groups, together under the (very) large bin Laden umbrella. Have an N.I.E. be released "coincidentally" in support of these warnings. Rinse and repeat, while friends, allies and/or other like-minded enablers, including the MSM, enhance the warning with outright disinformation and simple fearmongering - all in order to sustain, if not actually increase, the fear and insecurity of the populace.

Step Two - Spin your current disastrous wars into successes: We have growing and unshakable evidence that the state of affairs are turning for the worse in Iraq - with the reports of al-Maliki/Petraeus mésentente and of the Iraqi government inching closer toward complete disintegration, as well as Oxfam's assessment that Iraq is facing an alarming humanitarian crisis, constituting three recent, additional elements to this effect. The solution? Use Step One to keep justifying the Iraq War, while parading false experts all over the MSM to sell its "growing successes" and the "steady progress" in rebuilding Iraq, falsely branding said "experts" as "Bush critics" or "war critics" in the process so as to enhance their (non-existent) credibility - and make sure to hide the fact that they contradict their own research while dishing out the propaganda. Do the same thing with regards to Afghanistan - it is as much a part of the War against Global Terrorism(TM) and therefore must be sustained at all costs, those who beg to differ be damned. After all, facts do not matter here: it is the maintenance of the fear and ignorance of the populace which is of prime concern (see Steps Four and Five).

Step Three - Ignore, attack or ridicule all those who hold up the truth of the matter: Experts are contradicting your decisions or your arguments against pulling out your troops? They are saying that your actions have made things worse or that your strategies are not working? Ignore them, attack them, smear them, make them retire, dismiss them, punish them or simply fire them. Better yet, blame them for the failures - it is, after all, their choice of having enlisted and thus should stop complaining and do their job. And what about all those other, "regular" citizens who are likewise criticizing your wars of choice? Ridicule, demonize and/or attack them - anything that will marginalize them in the eyes of the fearful and ignorant public at large.

Step Four - Call for more wars: Because the Enemy is all encompassing, spreading his evil tentacles everywhere (at least, that is how the mantra goes), keep rattling the war sabers to include nearby "unfriendly" countries as collaborators of the Enemy - use anything and everything to support/justify potential war with those "Enemy collaborators", the facts be damned of course. Iran and Syria are two striking examples of this - after all, this is a War on Global Terrorism(TM) and you are "either with us, or against us". Keep the pressure long enough and maybe these countries will indulge you by striking first - no better justification for war, is there? At the same time, complain about the uselessness of your Middle Eastern allies (namely Pakistan and Saudi Arabia) - floating the possibility of launching attacks within their territory or securing their increased help with weapon sales. If these don't work ... then let them become the Enemy as well - in the end, what matters is the fall of Islam and of the Middle East in order to establish the Holy American Empire, while (again) keeping the public fearful (and thus under control) with perpetual war.

Step Five - Ask for increases in intelligence and military means to fight the Enemy: To have full control and wage war in the struggle to establish empire, you need all the tools you can get. The Patriot Act, the Military Commission's Act are but two examples. Keep clamoring and asking for more. On the military side of things, you have to keep the "surge" going while preparing/readying for more war (see Step Four). Supporting my previous conclusion that war with Iran (or even with Syria) will involve nuclear weaponry, the Puppet President asked Congress to fund the revamping of the nuclear arsenal of the U.S.A. After all, barring the re-establishment of a draft (which remains a possibility), there are not enough troops to wage a ground war all over the Middle East - which in turn becomes the roundabout/circular justification for the use of nuclear weaponry.

Step Six - Recycle through Steps One to Five: This one is self-explanatory.

In short: "We are good, they are evil. We must lead the world into embracing democracy as we must remain the sole super-power. This struggle is a clash of civilizations which will go on for generations to come. Sacrifices must be made. The Enemy understands nothing but war, and war He will have - with any and all means at our disposal. We must not falter, we must stay strong and resolute. Our cause is just and we cannot, must not, help the Enemy by questioning the righteous task which we have courageously accepted to undertake. Our faith in our Leaders is paramount if we are to achieve ultimate victory. It is our destiny. God bless America."

Thanks to Operation Enduring Propaganda, everything is being done in order to fool the public while an empire is slowly and clumsily being established. For most of the neoconservatives out there, the establishment of an American Empire is all about Manifest Destiny. But for some of them, and especially where their fundamentalist Christian right allies are concerned, this is about establishing a Holy American Empire - if not actually about rushing the advent of some sort of Armageddon in an insane, self-fulfilling prophetic desire to see the Second Coming of Christ become their fantasy wish made reality.

Which brings me back to this: "It never ceases to amaze me to what levels of utter irrationality the fundamentalists, neocons and other right-wing madhaters are willing to descend into. They lie, they misrepresent, they use decoy arguments and make ad hominem attacks. For them, the use of duplicity, of secrecy, of arguments of (non-existent) conspiracy, of fact (and non-fact) selectivity/cherry-picking, of quacks/fake experts, as well as putting forth logical fallacies, are simply means to an end. And this "end" is the following: to promulgate, support and defend their beliefs or their ideologies. Truth be told: these are the only things that truly matter to them."

More than ever, the Bushies, their neoconservative supporters and their far-right fundamentalist Christian allies constitute a veritable "dark mirror" of all that is right and humane in democratic principles. Their deluded, frantic wishes for the accomplishment of a glorious destiny override all sane and reality-based considerations.

More than ever, I am convinced that they are projecting the fear and loathing prevalent in their closed, primitive minds onto the whole of society, ever remaining oblivious or unmindful of the gradual erosion of democracy caused by their policies at home, as well as the chaos and mayhem their actions are causing abroad.

And more than ever, I suspect that History in the end will have no choice but to judge the Bushies, their neoconservative supporters and their far-right fundamentalist Christian allies "not guilty for reasons of insanity" - with ourselves and the rest of the world nonetheless left to heal critically wounded democracies amidst the ashes and ruins of war, wondering forevermore how it was that they were entrusted with the stewardship of power to begin with.

Such is the way I envision the state of affairs to be in the decades to come - unless, that is, Operation Enduring Propaganda gets to be roundly and permanently defeated here and now.

As always, it will be up to us to meet the challenge ... or not.

Update: 07/31/2007 - Tonight on CNN, Regent Cheney used the typical “don’t take it from me” sleight-of-hand routine to support his contention that the escalation in Iraq is working, citing the same (administration-fed) fake experts mentioned above, individuals whom he furthermore called “strong critics of the war”: "Look at the piece that appeared yesterday in The New York Times — not exactly a friendly publication — but a piece by Mr. O’Hanlon and Mr. Pollack on the situation in Iraq. They’re just back from visiting over there. They both have been strong critics of the war, both worked in the prior administration; but now saying that they think there’s a possibility, indeed, that we could be successful."

Here's a blast from the past: September 8, 2002 - Michael R. Gordon and Judith Miller co-author the article "U.S. Says Hussein Intensifies Quest for A-Bomb Parts" on the front page of the New York Times. The story relies heavily on claims made by Bush administration officials regarding Iraq's "worldwide hunt" to acquire aluminum tubes for uranium enrichment. The article would come to be entirely discredited. Same day - Dick Cheney appears on Meet the Press and contends that Iraq has "reconstituted" its nuclear weapons program, citing mainly the Gordon and Miller NYT article as support for his contention.

Talk about déjà vu ... but within the mission parameters of Operation Enduring Propaganda, if something worked once, it must surely be able to work again and again.


Update II: 01/08/2007 - Interestingly, Glenn Greenwald today made the same connection as I did yesterday (see previous update) between Regent Cheney's "performance" of last night with what he did back in September 8, 2002. Mr. Greenwald concludes: "From the administration's mouths, to the pens of obedient journalists and pundits, back into the administration's mouths." Thus Operation Enduring Propaganda goes ...

Update III: 08/03/2007 - Here's an interesting look at how Operation Enduring Propaganda is working and how right-wingers are loving it.

(Cross-posted at DKos, at Suzie-Q, at Diatribune, and at Progressive Historians)

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Behold The Wisdom Of Sheep

(Updated below)

I just read something that has verily shocked and outraged me. Via Raw Story - Workers told to shape up or pay up:

"Looking for new ways to trim the fat and boost workers' health, some employers are starting to make overweight employees pay if they don't slim down. Others, citing growing medical costs tied to obesity, are offering fit workers lucrative incentives that shave thousands of dollars a year off health care premiums."

At the last, the companies and corporations are now flatly coming out, unafraid and unfettered, to proclaim their intent of actually controlling your lives as they see fit.

Not only does this constitutes a serious breach of human rights, such encroachment into our personal, private lives would leave us open to any desire, whim and fancy of the moment from high-minded, arrogant corporate bureaucrats whom, let us not forget, will ever remain watchful of the bottom line first and foremost, rather than your health and/or well being.

What's next? Employees being fined for not eating enough veggies? For eating too much meat? For drinking too much coffee? For listening to "non-approved" kinds of music or artists? For reading "non-approved" books or blogs? For watching "non-approved" TV channels and/or shows? For smoking cigarettes or having a drink, at home?

For dating a "non-approved" other?

For having a "non-approved" number of children?

For having a "non-approved" overall lifestyle?

For holding "non-approved" political views?

For following a "non-approved" religion, or specific denomination?

For belonging to a "non-approved" party?

For (fill in the blanks)?

For non-conforming to every single dictate of your employers?

As utterly mind-boggling that such an advent as companies/corporations establishing policies of fines for employees who do not fit their "definition" of health, read what one person targeted by such unconstitutional authoritarianism had to say about it all:

"At first, I was mad when I thought I would be charged $30 for being overweight," said Courtney Jackson (...) "But when I found out it was going to be broken into segments — like just $10 for being overweight — it sounded better." Jackson said she was going to try to slim down before the plan took effect. "If I still have weight to lose when it starts, I'll deserve to pay the $10."

Behold the wisdom of the sheep, quietly accepting to have its life owned lock, stock and barrel, and thus being entirely run, by company/corporate decree.

If, and when, our democratic societies crumble into corporate authoritarianism, we will owe our gratitude to such quiet, intellectual sloth-driven acceptance/apathy.

Looks like we have already begun sliding downward the slippery slope ...

And as we keep sliding down, we will be told through it all that it is for our own good.

I, for one, beg to differ.

How about you?

Update: 07/29/2007 - Via at-Largely: Chicago police stormtroopers swarm a gathering of poetry reading on private property - without warning and without warrants. Now, I am not a "fan" of poetry, but still ... looks like the Powers-That-Be decided that poetry was not for your own good, or something to this effect? Perhaps the quite innocent, legal and constitutional gathering was percieved as an exercise in subversion - perhaps even indulging in reading the Constitution, the most subversive type of litterature of all? Or perhaps the nefarious shadow of poetic terrorism is on the rise again? How about the clear and immediate danger to Homeland Security for reading in public? After all, knowledge is a very dangerous thing indeed.

And further down we slide the slippery slope ...

(Cross-posted at DKos, at Suzie-Q and at Diatribune)

Friday, July 27, 2007

Late Friday Night Ode To Democracy

As I am fond of saying: living in a democracy is not just a right, but a responsibility as well.

Nevertheless, the state of affairs in our democratic societies has gone back to pretty much where it was some fifteen years ago, especially with regards to war, poverty and the environment - some might even claim that the overall situation has in fact worsened overall ... and I would not be one to dispute them.

What is to be learned from this? Will we ever learn?

It is to be hoped, indeed - but as a reminder, here's Neil Young - Rockin' in the Free World (lyrics below the video).

There's colors on the street: Red, white and blue.
People shufflin' their feet, people sleepin' in their shoes.
But there's a warnin' sign on the road ahead;
There's a lot of people sayin' we'd be better off dead.
Don't feel like Satan, but I am to them;
So I try to forget it, any way I can.

Keep on rockin' in the free world,
Keep on rockin' in the free world,
Keep on rockin' in the free world,
Keep on rockin' in the free world.

I see a woman in the night with a baby in her hand,
Under an old street light near a garbage can.
Now she puts the kid away and she's gone to get a hit;
She hates her life and what she's done to it.
There's one more kid that will never go to school,
Never get to fall in love, never get to be cool.

Keep on rockin' in the free world,
Keep on rockin' in the free world,
Keep on rockin' in the free world,
Keep on rockin' in the free world.

We got a thousand points of light for the homeless man;
We got a kinder, gentler, machine gun hand.
We got department stores and toilet paper;
Got styrofoam boxes for the ozone layer;
Got a man of the people, says keep hope alive;
Got fuel to burn, got roads to drive.

Keep on rockin' in the free world,
Keep on rockin' in the free world,
Keep on rockin' in the free world,
Keep on rockin' in the free world.

'Nuff said.

APOV's Friday Weekly Revue (07/27/2007)

If it's Friday, then it's time for APOV's Weekly Revue!

Oh, U.S.A.!
It is finally dawning on some (rare) members of the MSM that Puppet President Bush is exactly what the Founding Fathers feared: an uncaring Head of State with a twisted and heartless philosophy, continuously assaulting due process and civil liberties, always double-talking about progress in his wars of choice (on behalf of Big Oil) while being willfully oblivious to the consequences as well as the effects on those waging war for him and those being "liberated", obsessed with shadowy witch hunts at the expense of basic human rights, dubiously choosing his allies, rendering the country untrustworthy, and so on and so forth. There's your tax dollars at work, folks. Through it all, the bulk of the MSM keeps supporting these disastrous policies from within their ivory towers - thus further enhancing the prevailing troubles in the national discourse with their utter incompetence and misguided calls for "bi-partisanship" - time for a full return of straight partisanship indeed.

Oh, Canada!
North of the 49th parallel, the slow push for transforming Canada into neocon U.S.A. by our neocon Harper government and its neocon shrieking allies goes forth, with their stance of refusing to ban hand guns, their waging of war on the environment, and their wishes for increasing the military, as recent examples. These, along with racism still rearing its ugly head from time to time, make a lot of people (including me) ask the fateful question: what kind of country do we want to live in? Maybe we should first pay closer attention to what we are actually most concerned about ...

Which brings me to this parting question: is it just me who keeps seeing patterns at work here, or am I merely a sucker for conspiracy theories? Hmmm ... food for thought, indeed.

(And for the nitpickers among you out there: yeah, yeah, yeah - I highlighted way more than twelve blog posts for this week - so sue me! *wink*)

Want Some Schmooze With That Blog?

Talk about your double-take moment: Charlotte Rains Dixon, author of the blog Word Strumpet, awarded me with a Schmooze Award - imagine moi, a schmoozer ... who would've thunk it?

Being an accomplished writer, Charlotte's Word Strumpet is about all things related to writing - I highly recommend that you go read it (the feeble writer that I am sure learned many a thing or two from her wise and experienced tips! And I am still learning, for that matter!). I thank you very much, Charlotte, for this completely unexpected award!

The Schmoozie (as I would like to call this award henceforth - heh) is for bloggers who get involved and make an effort to get to know others - or, to borrow from Larry at Let's Talk/Let's Talk About it, "bloggers who don’t limit their visits to only the 'rich and successful', but who also spend some time to say hello to new blogs as well."

Although I do not always comment on all the blogs I visit (I do have a little shy-side to me, donchew know), it is my humble opinion that such an award like the Schmoozie is nonetheless a nice and fun way to show one's appreciation for not only a blog author, but likewise for a blog's contents.

And now, it is my turn to award a Schmoozie to five other bloggers, while imposing upon myself the endeavor of refraining from awarding a site that has already been so awarded.

Furthermore, in order to play along with the stereotypical social understanding of the term "schmooze", I decided to award a Schmoozie to five ladies (hey - so sue me! *wink*) who's serious, engaging, thoughtful and thought-provoking blogs have definitely grown on me.

Therefore, and in no particular order, the Schmoozie goes to:

1) Lynn at ZelleBlog - "Observations from obscurity". Let me assure you that Lynn's opinions, articles and writings are far from obscure and definitely enlightening indeed! It is my humble opinion that ZelleBlog should be read by a whole lot more folks out there, and a whole lot more often at that - go, read, now!

2) Jill from Brilliant at Breakfast - A blog I visit regularly. Thought-provoking, straight-to-the-point political/social discussions, with just the right touch of ironic humor, are to be found there ... so be advised and go read!

3) April Reign - "In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act". A proud feminist (and rightly so), April Reign discusses all matters political and social, with an emphasis on matters and issues important to women. One of my regular daily visits - need I say it? Go. Read. Now.

4) Mirth at Liberally Mirth - "Random flights with a left wing". Politics and social issues with democracy activism in mind. Very thought-provoking and a must for your daily political blog visits - trust me. 'Nuff said!

5) Woman at Mile Zero - one of the Canadian blogs that I visit daily. Straight to the point (unlike my usual long-winded fares), butts are kicked and names are taken there ... so, to the American and Canadian politicos (especially you non-progressive ones) out there: beware! For the rest of you good folks: go read!

And that, as they say, is that. Don't forget to also read those other great blogs to which I link in my sidebars - believe me, they are worth your time, just like those deserving five which I awarded today.

In the meantime, remember to keep on rockin'!

Thursday, July 26, 2007

On The Fear And Loathing Of Atheists

Today, I stumbled upon Barbara Kay's latest column, "The God that whined".

Said "article" attempts to talk about Atheists, what they were then, what they are now and what can be expected from them in months and years to come. Of course, Kay failed miserably on all counts.

Need I say that Kay's piece constitutes a classic example of "Demonize the Atheists!", "Fear the Atheists!", "Atheists are a danger to their children!", and "the Atheists are hypocrites!" kind of utterly incompetent journalism?

From the very beginning of her two-page feuille de chou, Kay announces her colors right off the bat:

"Back in the day, the many atheists I knew went about their unbelieving lives in a quietly sardonic, but non-combative way: They'd abandoned organized religion, but sought no quarrel with those who stayed. They explained their non-belief to their children, but let them join the boy scouts."

Ah, yes - she knew a couple of Atheists here and there (assuming this is true), consequently making her an expert on the very subject. I find it interesting that if one replaces "Atheists" with, say, "African Americans/Canadians", "gays", "Natives", or "Muslims", for instance, then this very first sentence of Kay's piece would have the exact same result of illustrating her hypocrisy, pompousness and arrogance.

And like the religious bigot-in-denial that she is, Kay of course generalized whatever her Atheist acquaintances did to every and all Atheists throughout North America, and everywhere else in the world.

But most telling is the under-current of this very first paragraph, i.e. "back then" Atheists were quiet about their non-beliefs, if not actually in hiding, and allowed their children to be exposed to good, sensible and normal Judeo-Christian values nonetheless. Hence, back then, Atheists were behaving like good Atheists.

It goes without saying that Kay's column goes down the toilet from there - I'll spare you the full deconstruction of it, considering that it would be a tedious affair indeed. However, allow me to further illustrate my criticism of this "serious" and "thoughtful" piece with a few additional passages:

"(they) have even opened summer camps. Old-style atheists sometimes sent their children to socialist camps. But summer camps specifically devoted to indoctrinating children in anti-religious faith rather than instilling a positive secular faith? This is something new. (Memo to Johnny in cabin #7: A copy of the Psalms was discovered under your mattress. Report to the re-education tent at once!)"

Where do I begin? For one, she just had to raise the old Christianist, fearmongering, propagandist and utterly tiresome specter of an association between Godlessness and socialism/communism - therefore, Atheists are obligatory socialists/communists. And "secular faith"? Since when is any faith truly/completely secular to begin with? Either she is being disingenuous at best, or willfully mendacious at worst.

Then, Kay shows her true, ugly colors, thereby proving my point above: she objects to today's "Atheist" summer camps because these would not instill a positive secular faith. Ergo: the poor children of Atheist families are being indoctrinated (Omygosh! Call child services, stat!) into a view of Humanity, of the world and of the universe that is negative and certainly not positive ... unlike that of the Judeo-Christian faith and view of the world.

To which I reply: What about creationism? Intelligent design? Inquisitions? Intolerance (of lifestyles, of science, of other religions, etc.)? Better yet: I invite her to acquaint herself fully with the history of Christianity right from its bloody inter-christian fratricide beginnings, as well as with the current, so tolerant, Christian Right.

And speaking of real indoctrination, I wonder what Kay would make of this?

Fact: children in "Godless" summer camps are taught critical thinking and the scientific method, among other very positive human values and principles. Above all, they are definitely not taught to hate.

Go look for yourself, dear Barbara, and try to actually do your journalistic job for a change - if you have any shred of intellectual honesty and professional ethics, that is. And to help you out, here is one place where you could begin an actual fact-based, journalistic investigation.

But let us move along, shall we?

"But the political handwriting on the wall is especially evident in this statement by American activist Herb Silverman: 'What I would really like is for atheists to come out of the closet because we are so demonized in our culture.' 'Culture'? 'Closet'? Uh oh. The ideological appropriation of 'rights' vocabulary is the canary in the identity-politics 'equality' mine. Once gay persecution is adduced, can the cry for official atheist equity be far behind? In grievance-collecting, it's a case of 'say the right word, and you'll be heard.' True, atheists in democratic countries can't conjure up grim tales of the truncheon's midnight thud on the door, but in our politically correct culture, 'feelings' of disempowerment or victimization often achieve moral parity with the real thing. So I'm betting it won't be long before our heartstrings will be tugged by activist atheists who claim that Stephen Harper's saying "God bless Canada" makes them feel "violated," or complaining that reading Christianity-stuffed Heidi makes their children feels psychologically 'abused'."

Ah yes - I do recognize that good old, "reasonable", tolerant, caring and empathic Christianism that we've come to know and love.

My question is: could Kay prove to be even more mendacious? Indeed, she lets out fully the ugly monster in her by not only proving my point above that she does not want Atheists to affirm themselves, but she furthermore ends up admonishing and condemning every minority or socially marginalized (however subtly) group out there that has ever dared organize in order to demand equal rights and opportunity, as well as fighting against discrimination and marginalization (which, incidentally, would include women or the poor).

And last, but not least:

"When bullets whiz overhead, there are no atheists in foxholes. What the bitter, bloviating (Atheists) fail to realize is that the whole world's a foxhole nowadays, and that their upthrust swollen heads make a better target for our mortal enemies -- religion's cancers and other, secular but equally totalitarian triumphalists -- than those humbly bowed in gratitude for mankind's loftiest ideals and supplication for the courage to defend them."

Shorter version: Atheists who dare affirm themselves are not only irresponsible, uppity self-gratifying show-offs, but are also a bunch of hypocrites in denial, because, deep down, they still believe in God (since no human being can truly be Godless, otherwise he/she could not live, right?) even if they say they don't.

I wonder if she would bloviate the same way with regards to all those far-right, evangelical Christians who seek at every turn to actually impose their fundamentalist religious values while attempting to transform our societies into theocracies?

Or has she conveniently forgotten this obvious reality which we are all faced with - year, after tiresome, year?

Here's some news for you, Barbara: back in 1993, I came close to death following a car accident - and you know what? This Atheist didn't, not even for a nanosecond, either thought of God, let alone utter his name or pray to him - or any other Divine/Spiritual/Supranatural human concept, for that matter.

In conclusion: it is Barbara Kay herself who should humbly bow her head in shame for her intellectual sloth-driven ignorance and pettiness. She is not only an incompetent columnist, but an incompetent human being as well.

I strongly suggest that she applies herself from now on at actually doing what she accuses others of not doing: show gratitude for mankind's loftiest ideals and supplication for the courage to defend them.

That would be indeed the competent thing to do - however, I doubt very much that the intellectual sloth-driven fearful, loathing and disingenuous creature that Barbara Kay has revealed herself to be is capable of attempting to reach, let alone achieve, such human enlightenment.

(Cross-posted at DKos and at Suzie-Q)

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Bordering On Insanity - Or Rather, Being Deep Into It

The Seventh Principle of Incompetence (Incompetence is nothing but consistent with itself) states: "As long as incompetents do not acknowledge their affliction with intellectual sloth, they will stubbornly refuse to change. Some people call this hubris. To this effect, incompetents are known to repeat the same mistakes again and again, because of their arrogance and utter fright at being exposed for what they truly are - and thus, they find themselves unknowingly enacting Franklin's, and/or Einstein's, very definition of insanity, which is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results."

It goes without saying that the Bush administration constitutes a paragon of this Principle, including where Iran is concerned.

We all remember the rattling of sabers which preceded the launching of the Iraq War. As it turned out, the justifications put forth by the Bush administration to enter this war of choice were based on shoddy, cherry-picked and "cooked" intelligence.

The same is happening with a looming Iran War. First, we've had the loud rattling of sabers (which are still rattling, louder than ever), along with unsubstantiated (if not ludicrous) claims of Iran involvement in the Iraq insurgency - as a matter of fact, the combination of these two elements even spurred an unanimous Senate resolution condemning Iran. This in turn lead to last week's N.I.E. on the threat of terrorism to the U.S., which is so shoddily concocted that it has confused some elements of the MSM into reporting that al-Qaeda (a Sunni, anti-shiite terrorist group) is being hosted by Iran (a Shiite-dominated country). The fact is that this N.I.E. represents another attempt at cooking intelligence, which allows the drawing of specious conclusions which, in turn, are politically convenient to further point the finger at Iran - and thus apparently "strenghtening" justifications for a U.S. military intervention.

But why fear a war against Iran? After all, everything is going so well there, in Iraq. Some have even gone as far as likening Baghdad to the "Mall of America" - provided that littering mutilated, tortured, unidentified bodies are likewise a regular fixture in America's malls. Besides, an Iran War may cost even less than the Iraq War - talk about your once-in-a-lifetime bargain!

Furthermore, winning a war apparently is not about actually winning it in the classic sense of the term after all. Indeed, if only the right messages can be sent by the politicized military, helped by willing "competent" journalists and the "brave" 101st keyboard commandos, then these said messages would be fully accepted by the American people, war critics would be exposed as the loonie extremists that they truly are, there would be no more demands for troop withdrawal - and thus the war would be won at last!

Aye - war does indeed only need a sound, solid and sustainable brand marketing, while its conduct is being devised by wise, all-knowing (non-military) political theorycrafters (as opposed to actual military folks, who don't know jack), in order to be won.

Therefore, why fear war with Iran indeed - we now know how to win such wars of choice now!

What's next - Regent Cheney actually running for President?

This is no more about utter incompetence. We have crossed beyond the Seventh Principle and entered some sort of Twilight Zone where wrong is right, black is white, no is yes, up is down, incompetence is competence, fantasy is reality.

Hence, welcome to the Realm of Insanity - here's your customized designer straight-jacket and your comfortable, luxurious designer padded room ... we hope you'll enjoy your stay in this Brave, New World of Madness.

(Cross-posted at DKos and at Suzie-Q)

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Canada Is Peaceful - But For How Long?

Via at-Largely: the First Global Peace Index Ranks 121 Countries.

"The first study to rank countries around the world according to their peacefulness and the drivers that create and sustain their peace was launched today. The Global Peace Index studied 121 countries from Algeria to Zimbabwe.

The rankings show that even among the G8 countries there are significant differences in peacefulness: While Japan was the most peaceful of the G8 countries, at a rank of five in the Index, Russia neared the bottom at number 118. The Global Peace Index also reveals that countries which had a turbulent time for parts of the twentieth century, such as Ireland and Germany, have emerged as peace leaders in the 21st century.

The Economist Intelligence Unit measured countries' peacefulness based on wide range of indicators - 24 in all - including ease of access to "weapons of minor destruction" (guns, small explosives), military expenditure, local corruption, and the level of respect for human rights.

After compiling the Index, the researchers examined it for patterns in order to identify the "drivers" that make for peaceful societies. They found that peaceful countries often shared high levels of democracy and transparency of government, education and material well-being. While the U.S. possesses many of these characteristics, its ranking was brought down by its engagement in warfare and external conflict, as well as high levels of incarceration and homicide. The U.S.'s rank also suffered due to the large share of military expenditure from its GDP, attributed to its status as one of the world's military-diplomatic powers

And the results are ...

Canada's rank: 8th.
U.S.A's rank: 96th.

So, it looks like Canada is still well in the game of being not only a peaceful country, but a country of peace.

My question is: for how long?

I ask, because of these items:

The Defense Department is asking the Harper government to more than double its annual funding to $36.6-billion by 2025;

Afghanistan mission's future at risk - says Prime Minister Harper;

Prime Minister Harper's preoccupation with the military solution;

Prime Minister Harper's unrealistic expectations about Afghanistan;

Canadian MSM: we need a taliban body count - without it, the Enemy is winning the propaganda war;

Defense Minister O'Connor uses more Bush-Cheney talking points on what defines Canada's mission in Afghanistan as successful;

And last, but not least: highly sensitive information about the religious beliefs, political opinions and even the sex life of Britons travelling to the United States is to be made available to US authorities when the European Commission agrees to a new system of checking passengers. My question is: will this be happening with Canadians as well? Or has this been implemented already without our knowledge?

I wrote previously: "Canada is currently being governed by incompetent people who are more interested in pleasing Bush-Cheney (and related U.S. interests), and thus surrendering our sovereignty in the process, than actually promoting, protecting and serving the interests of Canada (...) Therefore, look again at their record so far and then try to imagine how much they can further "accomplish" in another year hence - or two, or even more ..."

Scary thoughts, eh?

Monday, July 23, 2007

Of Incompetence, Delusions Of Grandeur And Monomania

(Updated below)
Monomania (mon-o-ma-ni-a):
1. Pathological obsession with one idea or subject.
2. Intent concentration on or exaggerated enthusiasm for a single subject or idea.

"The marketing of personality is changing from a cottage to a growth industry (...) The trend coincides with a current journalistic emphasis, even in the respectables, on what is interesting, against what is important. (The important may make a comeback in news interest but at the moment lacks either the urgency of danger or the stimulus of hope.) Recognizing this shift, politicians constantly conduct polls about their image and resist too much identity with substance (...) Everywhere the cult of personality prevails (...) There is less of journalistic prying now, even though gossip and gossip columning are still around. Gossip flourishes particularly in Washington, where political hypocrisy still lends savor to misbehavior (...) Celebrityhood lives by publicity and must be ready to be "interesting" on cue (...) But an interest in people won't go away: it is as old as Plutarch, and apt to survive as long as humans do."

The preceding constitutes a collage of choice statements from an August 1978 Time Magazine piece, "America's own cult of personality" (with emphasis mine).

Thirty-minus-one years later, things have only gotten worse in this respect - in both the U.S.A. and Canada.

Indeed, we need only to scan through the offerings of the MSM on any given day to arrive at this conclusion. The same applies with the current offerings in entertainment (Reality TV shows, anyone?). The prevailing under currents of praises, needs and cries for a Unitary Leader, of a strong and powerful leader who must be above the quaint laws of the country, as well as the MSM's fixations with all things manly, confident, comforting and securing in candidates (some examples highlighted and discussed here, here, here, here and here), are likewise glaring symptoms of the terrible disease that is ailing our democratic societies.

However, allow me to dwell specifically upon the subject of the cult of political personalities, especially with regards as to what it can do to incompetent, would-be authoritarian Leaders.

The cult of political personalities has ever constituted a given fact of life in totalitarian regimes - Stalin, Hitler, Mussolini, Mao, et al., the list goes on and on. Truth be told, these (and those currently in power still) are nothing more than modernized transpositions of the worship, reverence and unwavering following of all those Pharaohs, Kings, Tyrants, Emperors and Monarchs found throughout Humanity's history. Absolute authoritarianism requires that the Leader be loved, admired and cherished without question - because He is powerful, He is wise, His word is law, His vision is pure, and His rule is all that is good, just and true.

And, of course, because He has a mandate from the Gods/the Heavens/God ... or is a God Himself.

(A mandate from God ... where have I heard this before? Ah, yes - now I remember well - but I digress)

It goes without saying that Cult Leaders are typically afflicted by delusions of grandeur, seeing themselves as all wise and all visionary, brooking no questions of their self-righteousness, let alone suffering any dissenting opinions (something that they just can't understand). They can do no wrong and are always right. They do not make mistakes - rather, it is always the fault of others if the Leader's plans and directives go astray. The apparels of government must conform to the Leader's will, vision and purity of ideology - facts of reality notwithstanding. Laws be damned or be brushed aside, if they stand in the way of the Leader's obsessive march into history. All that matters to the Leader is his (perceived) infallibility and the total loyalty of others to himself and his vision - as well as his ego's need to be praised and flattered. In short, the Leader views himself as the only one worthy and capable of governing all by himself.

And of course, there are enemies everywhere - at least in the Leader's paranoid mind - and hence wars must be waged while secrecy is de rigueur. Total awareness and control are a must as well. Above all, the Leader must use the politics of fear and ignorance in order to keep the flock subdued and adoringly supportive of His decisive grandeur - of the idea that He is the Law.

But as history has often shown, political personality cults can collapse very quickly upon the disgrace, ousting or death of the Cult Leader. History has also shown us how a besieged Cult Leader can behave like when his hold onto power becomes tenuous:

1) He enters into an acute paranoid-driven "bunker mentality";
2) He becomes monomaniacal and resolute in his deluded belief that he is right;
3) He holds court only with his most fervent and loyal supporters;
and 4) His demands for support and loyalty become increasingly petty and specious.

All of these numerous characteristics and behaviors mentioned above constitute glaring examples of all Eight Principles of Incompetence in action.

Unfortunately, history has also shown us that a "besieged" Cult Leader will often resort to the Sixth Principle whenever he feels cornered enough.

And the problem is that all the tools required to do so are already on hand, namely the Catastrophic Emergency Presidential Directive (“National Security Presidential Directive/NSPD 51” and “Homeland Security Presidential Directive/HSPD-20.”), the Blocking of Property and Assets Presidential Directive, the Patriot Act, the Military Commission's Act (as well as the gutting of the Posse Comitatus Act), and the invocation of Martial Law - taking into account the policies of habeas corpus suspension, torture, indefinite detention and illegal eavesdropping already currently still being enacted.

Could there be indeed something in the works to trigger an authoritarian state? Will he, spurred on by his Regent, finally cross the Rubicon?

In 2000, an obvious incompetent was elected as President by the People (or lack thereof) - regardless of how he may have been "helped". Nevertheless, he was re-elected in 2004 - thanks again to the People.

Because of his incompetence, the seeming cult of personality that he has enjoyed (after 9-11) only fuled his deluded ego, therefter rendering him susceptible to increased delusions of grandeur - and once the majority of the People realized that he was indeed an emperor without clothes, the shock at being denied unfettered loyalty and adoration by a flock of unquestioning, submitted sheeps caused him to retreat further and further into monomania ... to the point whereby he now constitutes a frightening potential danger to the Republic.

Respect for authority and institutions is a requisite in democratic societies governed by the rule of Law. However, venerating said authority and institutions is anathema to the very basic principles of democracy.

What is holding the People back from ousting the Bush administration with impeachment? Is it misplaced blind respect for the office of the Presidency, or some lingerings from the Bush cult of personality? Or is it plain procrastination or, even worse, democratic cowardice? Or all of the above?

Only time, and history, will tell, I suppose ...

In closing, I could not end this commentary without leaving you good folks with a parting offering: I give you Living Colour - Cult of Personality, proving once again that a song can say it all (lyrics below the video screen).

Look into my eyes, what do you see?
Cult of personality.
I know your anger, I know your dreams,
I’ve been everything you want to be:
I’m the cult of personality.
Like Mussolini and Kennedy,
I’m the cult of personality.
Cult of personality, cult of personality.

Neon lights, a nobel prize,
The mirror speaks, the reflection lies.
You don’t have to follow me:
Only you can set me free.

I sell the things you need to be,
I’m the smiling face on your t.v.
I’m the cult of personality.
I exploit you still you love me,
I tell you one and one makes three.
I’m the cult of personality.
Like Joseph Stalin and Ghandi;
I’m the cult of personality.
Cult of personality, cult of personality.

Neon lights, a nobel prize,
When a leader speaks, that leader dies.
You don’t have to follow me:
Only you can set you free.

You gave me fortune, you gave me fame.
You gave me power in your God’s name.
I’m every person you need to be:
I’m the cult of personality.

Update: 07/24/2007 - TheBHC at Anything They Say also blogged on the same subject, albeit coming at it from a different angle and yet arriving at essentially the same conclusion: "The country has grown weary of their yapping, and they know it, which spells only one possible recourse: an actual terrorist attack, not the phony, trumped-up dummy plots we have seen to date. If something like that does happen, it is going to have the smell of Operation Northwoods and Operation Gladio all over it. Outrageous? Of course. But how could we be surprised that any of these war criminals, whose lies have already led to several thousand American dead and untold numbers of Iraqis, would resist what must surely appear to be their only solution to failing political climate". 'Nuff said ...

(Cross-posted at DKos, at Progressive Historians, at Suzie-Q and at Diatribune)

A Quick One: The Predominant Goodness Of APOV

Via Red Tory, I was alerted to the Germatriculator, which uses the quack pseudo-science of Bible Numerics to evaluate the percentage of Evil and Good in web sites or in specific posts.

So of course, I had to try this and check out the Evilness/Goodness rating of APOV.

And here it is:

This site is certified 32% EVIL/68% GOOD by the Gematriculator
(32% Evil, 68% Good)

Good thing this gimmick engine didn't take the time to actually read my numerous opinions concerning religious fundamentalists and Bible literalism, eh?

Saturday, July 21, 2007

The Real Problem With Terrorism

The question of a definition of terrorism has haunted the debate among states for decades.

Here is a summed up definition of terrorism from a 2001 report of the U.S. State Department (the original report is no longer available online apparently, and thus I use this article as source instead): Premeditated, politically motivated violence perpetrated against noncombatant targets (civilians and/or military personnel who are unarmed, or off duty at the time) by subnational groups or clandestine agents, usually intended to influence an audience. Acts of terrorism are also considered as attacks on military installations or on armed military personnel when a state of military hostilities does not exist at the site, such as bombings against military bases.

However clear such a definition may appear to be, it nonetheless falls short when one considers insurgents against a regime or resistance fighters against occupiers. That is why the main difficulty in clearly defining terrorism lies with the unfortunately inconvenient - but nevertheless realistically valid - argument that one state's "terrorist" is often another state's "freedom fighter".

The anti-Sandinista Contras and the IRA are two examples which come quickly to mind, in support of said inherent subjectivity in defining, and labeling, "acts of terrorism".

John Chuckman recently penned an eye-opening article dealing with the subjectivity of what terrorism means, illustrating how many military actions during wars constituted nothing more than actions meant to terrorize populations into surrendering - the unconditional surrender of proud and military powerful Imperial Japan, following Hiroshima and Nagasaki, stands out first and foremost in my mind.

However, the point is still currently being illustrated all too well with the conflations of Taliban/non-Taliban Afghani insurgents - or of Iraqi insurgents - with al-Qaeda terrorists, as harped day in and day out by U.S. and Canadian authorities and media, as well as by the usual American/Canadian neoconservative, faux patriotic, and fearmongering/fear-stricken enthusiasts (such as the 101st Keyboard Commandos and their Canadian counterparts, whom I have come to call the Kanuckle Keyboard Kommandos).

Which brings a second underlying truism in the subjective nature of defining terrorism: the use of ideological, political and/or religious dogmatism in labeling acts as terrorism.

To claim that Afghani and Iraqi insurgents (or even the genuinely terrorist al-Qaeda, Hamas or Hezbollah militants, for instance) are "against freedom and democracy" is not only facile intellectual sloth-driven absolutism, but likewise constitutes a mendacious rationalization to be used as a political, ideological and/or religious talking point - as John Chuckman elegantly illustrates.

Nonetheless, the fearmongering, fear-stricken American and Canadian madhaters keep on barking and yelping about "Gobal struggle against radical Islamism", "Islamofascism", "Global struggle against terrorism", "protecting our freedoms", "clash of civilizations", "defending Christianity" or even the childish "fighting evil", all the while boasting their faux (cowardly) patriotism and exposing their penchant for religious/governmental authoritarianism - the promotion of which constituting their one and only motivation.

Hence, that is why they accuse of treason anyone who dares to question the validity of the current Afghanistan and Iraq wars;

That is why they keep clamoring for more war (e.g. Iran);

That is why they confuse "support our troops" with "support the mission";

That is why they gleefully applaud the increased militarization and integration of North America;

That is why they applaud and support aberrations like the Patriot Act and the Military Commission's Act;

That is why they are intractable supporters of illegal domestic spying, denial of habeas corpus, indefinite detentions, torture and secret military tribunals;

And that is why they keep clamoring, and seeking, for more.

In short, neocons, Christian fundamentalists and their sympaticos are nothing more than intellectual sloth-driven, frightened and hateful immature children, finding comfort in the simpleton "purity" of their beliefs and ideologies, while seeking security in the strong, manly busoms of Big Daddy/God/General exclusively.

Yes, insurgents are politically motivated - they want occupiers out of their country (whether they be "right" or "wrong" about it)! Yes, al-Qaeda use religion as their main driving motivation against what they perceive as the West encroaching into Muslim countries (again, whether they be "right" or "wrong" about this). IRA wanted independence - so did the FLQ for that matter. And so on, and so forth.

While I have always considered genuine terrorist organizations like al-Qaeda, IRA, FLQ, Hamas, Hezbollah and others of their ilk as glaring, reprehensible and unacceptable examples of the Sixth Principle of Incompetence, I find myself nonetheless feeling sympathetic for genuine insurgents such as the Afghani and Iraqi ones - if only because I would be doing the same against foreign occupiers of my own country who refuse to leave.

And that is true patriotism in my book, as opposed to those cheerleaders of war who would not even enlist in order to actually fight for that cherished cause that they claim to fervently espouse.

As I wrote previously:

For the sake of our continued existence, we must strive to forget nevermore that rationalizations supporting the use of violence - other than the need for the rightful exercise of self-defense when set upon by a genuinely clear, present and immediate danger - invariably constitute deceitful fabrications meant to conceal, disguise or justify incompetence ...

... including our very own for embracing such mendacity

Or, to put it another way: war is so over as a means to enact change, such as the utterly arrogant and presumptuous ideal of "bringing democracy" to other countries.

Hence, the real problem with terrorism lies not with the difficulties in defining it, but rather with the means we choose to confront it and whether we do so with clear heads (such as by remembering that one can't wage war against a method/tactic of fighting), or with fear- and hate-ridden, intellectual sloth-driven reasoning - as being currently done, sadly and tragically enough.

It has been said before by others many a time, yet it remains very à propos to repeat it here: we have met the enemy and the enemy is ourselves.

The question now becomes: what are we to do about this?

(Cross-posted at Dkos, at Suzie-Q and at Diatribune)

Friday, July 20, 2007

Late Friday Night Ode To Peace

What better way to praise peace than by offering you a song which condemns war?

From the good old days of 1984-1985 (ah, yes - spandex ... those were the days indeed), here is a song which remains very much à propos in these very, trying days: Iron Maiden - Two Minutes Two Midnight. As I am fond of saying: sometimes, a song says it all ...

Kill for gain or shoot to maim,
But we don't need a reason.
The Golden Goose is on the loose
And never out of season.
Some blackened pride still burns inside
This shell of bloody treason,
Here's my gun for a barrel of fun,
For the love of living death.

The killers breed on the Demon's seed,
The glamour, the fortune, the pain.
Go to war again, blood is freedom's stain -
But don't you pray for my soul anymore.

2 minutes to midnight, the hands that threaten doom.
2 minutes to midnight, to kill the unborn in the womb.

The blind men shout "Let the creatures out!
We'll show the unbelievers."
The napalm screams of human flames,
Of a prime time Belsen feast ... yeah!
As the reasons for the carnage
Cut their meat and lick the gravy,
We oil the jaws of the war machine
And feed it with our babies.

The killers breed on the Demon's seed,
The glamour, the fortune, the pain.
Go to war again, blood is freedom's stain -
But don't you pray for my soul anymore.

2 minutes to midnight, the hands that threaten doom.
2 minutes to midnight, to kill the unborn in the womb.

The body bags and little rags
Of children torn in two
And the jellied brains of those who remain,
To put the finger right on you.
As the madmen play on words
And make us all dance to their song -
To the tune of starving millions,
To make a better kind of gun.

The killers breed or the Demon's seed,
The glamour, the fortune, the pain.
Go to war again, blood is freedom's stain -
But don't you pray for my soul anymore.

2 minutes to midnight, the hands that threaten doom.
2 minutes to midnight, to kill the unborn in the womb.

Midnight, Midnight, Midnight - It's all right.
Midnight, Midnight, Midnight - It's all night!

(I hope members of the U.S. 101st Keyboard Commandos and of our own Kanuckle Keyboard Kommados will drop by and listen carefully - for once in their intellectual sloth-driven lives ...).

Enjoy - and keep on rockin'!

APOV's Friday Weekly Revue (07/20/2007)

With due thanks to Bobby Revell for inspiring the idea with this recent post of his, I've decided to add a "feature" to APOV called "APOV's Friday Weekly Revue", in which I list (and link to) the twelve blog entries that most attracted my undivided attention during the past week (if I am limiting myself to only twelve, it is because I could easily list fifty if not more, considering the sheer volume of quality writers out there which I try to read as regularly as possible - hence, I have to draw the line somewhere, eh?).

Therefore, and without further fanfare, here is APOV's Friday Weekly Revue for July 20, 2007:

Oh, U.S.A.!
The exposed Puppet President Bush can nowadays only find solace by holding court with his staunchest of admirers - especially since his ex-Christian Right fawning supporters have apparently found their new lover savior hero champion. Say - I wonder what Unitary Regent Cheney thinks about the fact that his infamous 1% doctrine has now been downgraded to 0.7%? Or that violence in Iraq is as high as ever? Which brings me to a word of advice and caution: anti-Iraq war critics should not repeat the mistakes of their previous counterparts of the Vietnam era by crying "baby-killer" lightly. And as an aside, the MSM continues forth resolutely with its quest to outdo its own vapid, fatuous and trivia-junkie achievements in superficial infotainment.

Oh, Canada!
Like the intellectual sloth-driven, incompetent neocon that he is, the Mini Leader double-speaks on human rights, probably having forgotten his often-stated aversion to terrorism, while having found his very own equivalent of a Petraeus-political-hack-like to further sell Canada's mission in the other quagmire Afghanistan. Meanwhile, news columnists (from our "liberal" MSM) and "thoughtful, civil" right-wing bloggers are crying "treason, bloody treason!" against those who dare criticize the Afghanistan War - they are simply following in the footsteps of their American wingnut counterparts with regards to Iraq War critics, I suppose ... Or am I guilty of a logical fallacy by presenting these items in such a way? Hmmmm ....

Enjoy - and keep on rockin'!