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A Quiet Evening

Updated: 2014-10-01T23:31:31.968-05:00


Part II


Just in case there are individuals out there who liked a few of the songs I mentioned in my last post, and are wondering where my taste is coming from, I've decided to post a few examples of (what I think are) good songs.

These aren't necessarily, however, examples of songs I would put on a mix-tape- because when you give someone a mix-tape, you are trying to, uh, impress them, so it depends on the person and stuff. These are just songs I like.

(since these are good songs I included links to a version)
1. Come Go With Me - The Del Vikings
2. Crimson and Clover - Tommy James and the Shondells
3. White Rabbit - Jefferson Airplane
4. For Whom The Bell Tolls - Metallica
5. Runaway - Del Shannon
6. Under Pressure - Queen
7. Another One Bites The Dust - Queen
8. Radio Ga-ga - Queen
9. Nothing Compares 2 U - Sinead O'Connor
10. With Or Without You - U2
11. Tarzan Boy - Baltimora
12. Blackbird - The Beatles
13. Norwegian Wood - The Beatles
14. All Madonna songs
15. Red Red Wine - UB40
16. Rockin' In The Free World - Neil Young
17. Proud Mary - Creedence Clearwater Revival
18. D'yer Mak'er - Led Zeppelin

Great Ideas Happen Every Day


UPDATE: Added some new songs here, Aug. 18.

Pay someone a backhanded favor: give them a mix-tape of the worst songs you can think of. In our modern world of politeness and law, it can be hard to take revenge on someone who really deserves it, or waiting for an opportunity to "get back" in a way that's appropriate can take forever. So get them by giving them insufficient courtesy. It won't reflect poorly on your taste, because your friends will find out what you're up to, and enjoy the joke.

Here are some suggestions to get you going:

1. Stay - Lisa Loeb
2. Margaritaville - Jimmy Buffet
3. Just Go Ahead Now - Spin Doctors
4. Little Miss Can't Be Wrong - Spin Doctors
5. Escape (The Pina Colada Song) - Rupert Holmes
6. Mr. Jones - Counting Crows (note: if you want women to like you, you can't let it be known that you don't like this one)
7. Take A Letter, Maria - R.B. Greaves
8. Me And Julio Down By The School Yard - Paul Simon (this one is annoying because, while it could be good in theory, as executed by Paul Simon in actual practice, it comes off as patronizing, white-boy-wanna-be-Latino (I think Simon even fakes a Latino accent) and makes him look like a weiner)
9. You Oughta Know - Alanis Morissette
10. Black Hole Sun - Soundgarden
11. Bad Day - Daniel Powter
12. Story Of A Girl - 3 Doors Down
13. Mm-bop - Hanson
14. All of the Creed songs.
15. All star - Smashmouth
16. Before He Cheats - Carrie Underwood
17. Crocodile Rock - Elton John
18. Jessie Paints A Picture - John Denver
19. Rat In A Cage - Smashing Pumpkins (say what you want about how talented Smashing Pumpkins are- Billy Corrigan wrote this song so he could sing, in his whiny nasal voice, the lyric "Despite all my rage, I am still just a rat in a cage," over and over and over again, and there's nothing especially redeeming about the music. James Iha and good old what's-her-name would have been much better off ditching this egomaniac before recording this song and starting a side-project with that dude from Tool (the one who's supposed to be a real good guitarist and everything). Despite some other alright songs, this song is annoying.)
20. She's Always A Woman To Me - Billy Joel (this song shows how misogynistic Billy Joel is, and it's also musically annoying)
21. Hey Jealousy - Gin Blossoms
22. Hotel California - The Eagles

I like a lot of songs, and it's hard to think of more than these I truly don't like. If you any suggestions, please e-mail.

Plame scandal


I'll do a little follow up post to my July 4 "Plame scandal" post sometime soon, incorporating a few comments I wrote on the Washington Monthly blog recently. Then, maybe sometime after that (in a few days or so) I'll rehash both the posts together so they're very clear and concise and I've made sure of thought of everything.

Keith Olbermann


Keith Olbermann and 60 Minutes should both be looking into getting him a place on the show when his contract runs up. They're a really good place for a guy like him- either he can be groomed to be a journalist by the old ones there before they all retire (it's got to be coming soon) or he can be an Andy Rooney there (seems they'd have to give him a little more space than Rooney gets, though, since he already gets to be in front of the camera so much on his show, and do his own "editorials" already. But then, probably a lot more people watch 60 Minutes...) The real heroes on 60 Minutes are getting old, and that's just a fact of life, and they need someone they can count on to fill their shoes before it's time to pass the torch. I never watched the show that much, but it's nonetheless a really great American institution and it would be sad to see it fade away or turn into something else.

Plame scandal


I wrote some comments on the Plame scandal last night. Here they are, in slightly-edited form. A commenter on the Carpetbagger Report wrote:And while I do not condone renegade actions by our own CIA, I would be highly intrigued if a member of our intelligence community would drop off some files of dirt about Scooter and his cohorts to a credible reporter like Sy Hersch to show that the CIA doesn’t approve of politicians f*cking with the secret covers of its operatives.And I responded:How do we know the CIA wasn’t cool with the Plame leak? How do we know they didn’t consider blowing Plame’s cover a good way to get at Wilson, and an acceptable sacrifice to advance Bush’s agenda in the context of whatever she was doing operationally? For all we know, Plame was even complicit in it, and for all we know, Plame isn’t even really a liberal (if that’s what she holds herself out as). Whatever really went on in this case, there’s a lot more to it- a bunch of cloak-and-dagger stuff- than just Bush, whose dad was a CIA agent, taking revenge on Wilson by outing Wilson's wife through White House minions and foolish journalists. Bush and Cheney have a boyfriend-girlfriend relationship with the CIA, they’re not going to just say ‘Fuck you’ to the CIA lightly. I think that was something in this case that was totally missed by the media and public, but that's perhaps to be expected-- it’s natural for people not to want to speculate about the doings of the CIA at length in these times, since they’re involved in national security. Also, perhaps it's natural in such times to want to believe the fantasy, that the CIA are a bunch of super-heroes who are out to save us- rather than that sometimes the people you are counting on to protect you are victimizing you, too.Also, if Cheney and Bush (a couple of assholes) want to use the CIA (also possibly a bunch of assholes) to do things the CIA is not supposed to do and that would really revolt people, then the whole scandal serves the purpose of making it look like Bush and the CIA are at odds, so that people won’t be too alarmed at the risks of an autocrat that historically come with an executive who assumes a lot of power. However, this explanation seems a little too far-flung and Machiavellian to me- 1) first of all, it seems too clever for Bush and his type, and 2) it flies in the face of the facts we know about the case- it seems like the details of this thing (that is, that the White House at the highest level of command was behind it) is something that was really sought to be kept in the dark. But it’s just a possibility. At least, if the CIA is going to engage in things they shouldn't do- whether or not Bush orders it- and if Bush is their favorite politicians because he's wielding the power of the President, and he's a conservative, neocon yes-man, then they wouldn't want people to connect Bush with them if it ever happened to come to light what they were doing- they wouldn't want the public to see the Republican President as running a Gestapo. But as regards the chance that the Plame scandal specifically was used up to achieve these ends- to me it’s a more likely explanation that Bush (or Rove) just wanted to show a bunch of people that a lot of dirty tricks could still happen to you if you were going to try to criticize the White House / conservative war policy- they tried to nip the criticism in the bud- but, attacking people comes with the risks of attacking people. How to attack people (and thereby terrorize their peers against opposing you) but not risk drawing harm to yourself? Create a fake attack on one of them. The CIA says, ‘You could out one of our guys that’s married to a critic of yours, it’s perfect.’ And either more or less people are actually in on it. If less people are in on it, maybe they don’t really care so much because they figure she’s a woman and therefore not a ‘real’ CIA agent, and plus she’s married to a l[...]



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Fox News


This is so awesome, and this is just the kind of thing I was suggesting- long time readers may recall posts or videos I've subsequently taken down that really tried to draw attention to the Fox News problem, and to thinking of ways of solving it, as one of the major goals of liberalism today. Remember, what Fox News does is too damaging for us not to try to think up countermeasures. This is the egregious example, latterly, of what Fox does- look how they try to shame you into eating a poison pill.

While the PBS show is a step in the right direction, it isn't enough.

For anyone who wants to see the show or send a link to a friend it's here.



I closed the post titled How To Annoy Republicans, posted on March 24, for editing, just to let you know.

From the Kremlin to the White House


CB linked to an interesting point of view the other day that drew the comparison between the situation in this country and how communist Russia was run. A comment on this post suggested that it was interesting that "the wingnuts fought so hard against the commies" since they achieved the same result, in some respects, as the Kremlin in America. Not one to risk letting the wingers sound like heroes, because it's not true, I had to jump in. I responded to this in a few comments (starting here), and used that an opportunity to explain a few things. I'd like to re-cap that here.My initial response is that the conservatives opposed Russia so determinedly in the Cold War not, of course, because they opposed all the excesses of social authority that led to human rights abuses. Those abuses, in fact, as we should all know, had nothing to do with the ideology of socialism of itself. The right wingers turned a blind eye to those kinds of abuses when they found those abuses to be useful concomitants of their own plots, such as during the East Timor/Indonesian conflict, to take one piece of evidence. There are many more inconsistencies along these same lines, and there are many left-wingers who are much more knowledgeable about them than I am, but I still feel confident referencing them because I've read and heard about many of the examples. So even besides the human rights abuses, even without the violations of freedom, the right wingers still objected to socialism- because what they really opposed about it were the good parts of communism. These are the parts you left-wingers unfortunately mostly don't take the time to articulate and advocate expressly, because you're naive and dull enough to equate advocating for Castro Cuba in general, or similarly apologizing for the USSR, with advocating for the good parts of communism and socialism-- the parts you actually believe in, even though it's the human rights abuses of the USSR and Castro that the USSR and Castro have become equivalent to in the public mind in this country. Unfortunately, regardless of whether in this context it's way too easy and logical for your political opponents to paint you as anti-freedom and anti-human rights when you blanket-support those regimes of those countries- that is, without making a distinction between the consequences of totalitarianism/authoritarianism, on the one hand, and the consequences of socialism, on the other- you people vocally support Castro and the USSR. Back to the matter at hand: the spin you unfortunately walk into is just spin, and the rich conservatives (the conservative leaders) opposed the communist countries because those conservatives wanted money, just like they want money now, and they were so scared that what happened in Cuba would happen here and someone else, instead of them, would be planning the wealth-redistribution in this country. In the USSR, the leaders did it subtly, redistributing wealth to themselves through corruption and in the names of freedom and equality. Here, the leaders (the right-wing leaders of huge commercial corporations) do it subtly, redistributing wealth to themselves also in the names of freedom and equality (think of the conservative rhetoric surrounding the flat-tax and the estate tax). They wouldn't be any less opposed to authoritarianism in this country if they could practice it, I think, it's just that they couldn't get away with it here because people here do not want a conservative revolution. The conservatives need to be more subtle, also, they feel, because otherwise the communist revolution they feared might come would come and take it all away from them. That is, it would be someone else doing all the redistributing, not them, and it would get redistributed to America's downtrodden, not to them, and also perhaps to a new group of authoritarians who would be abusing socia[...]

An interesting question, and my answer


The Carpetbagger asked this interseting question. Here's my answer:

The best thing to do would be to treat him according to option 2 and only treat him like option 1 to the extent he proves- not just appears- to be for real.

This doesn't mean you really treat him mean- quite the opposite, possibly. It just means that in your own heart you don't trust him. The best thing to do would be to keep him close until you can find out more about what he's up to. Let him think he has won you over. Don't let him really control or influence things. Spread doubt to his former friends, ambiguously, so they think he has in fact come over to your side and is giving you important confidences. If he's playing double-agent for the Republicans, make them worried so he becomes a more expensive double-agent- so they think they have to pay twice as much to be sure he'll be loyal. Even sacrifice, give up bits to him to win his confidence and make him think all the more he's won your confidence. Find whatever way you can to use him against the enemy and cast him adrift when you're done with him to live in the mercy of his (hopefully, effectively your) having burned his own bridges.

But this is in an ideal world. Actually, the typical liberal politician or activist is not nearly as cunning as the average punk maneuvering among his friends for respect or young woman maneuvering for romance. Your actions are going to show that you're respecting him, and it's too risky to try to tell fellow liberals or subordinates how to treat him because Republicans will want to know what you're all saying and thinking about this guy. You can't trust that other liberals will tacitly understand how to treat him, because they haven't learned this point of view from their experiences. They probably have other people around them telling them to forgive and forget and not scrutinize.

So you really just have to cut him loose and take comfort in the fact that if he's sincere, he deserves what may befall him because of what he did in the past. It really shouldn't be that way, and we should be able to conduct ourselves a smart way like I described above, but liberals really don't have it together to do that right now. Everybody wants to have their own opinion and too often the quality of that is equivalent to, trust a guy like Dowd as soon as he starts making some nice-person noises. Thanks for that enlightenment.

Right now, I'd barely trust your average bleeding-heart liberal activist to walk down the street holding the hand of my five-year-old daughter (if I had one) and not get gipped into selling her off to some child-molestor. I certainly wouldn't trust them around someone like Dowd.

Also check out my related comments here and here below this post.



What explains the failure of the mainstream media to cover the purge scandal for so long, and so many other scandals? Do you think somebody just set up newspaper editors to cheat on their wives, and threatened to tell if the editors wouldn’t play ball when they come back some day and ask for something?

It wouldn’t be that hard to do, when you think about it. People wouldn’t talk about it.

Check out this Carpetbagger Report post about how Time magazine failed to cover the scandal at all until well after it had exploded on Capitol Hill.

Jersey City Geography


Today I mentioned in a comment that I lived near a couple of housing projects in Jersey City near the JC/Bayonne border when I was young. Just for the record, these projects may have been torn down since then (as a lot of housing projects have been in NJ) but anybody who's lived around that spot for a couple decades or so would be able to tell you where they used to be. It was right within a half mile or so of where Kennedy Boulevard runs between Jersey City and Bayonne, around a private highschool in Bayonne. Today's lesson is, if you're going to write or talk about fuzzy memories from your childhood, you'd better get it right- or say to what extent you don't know- because people are scuzzy and are not necessarily going to ask you or treat it realistically if you don't get it precisely right.

From the people who brought you the K-Street Project, it's The Fucking Up The Rest Of Your Life Project


How many women Democratic staffers, liberal women in journalism, and women liberal social activists in DC do you think have actually fellated a guy who they thought was a liberal but actually wasn’t, or at least thought wasn’t dating them just to manipulate them, but actually was?

Sort of to have a contact that the guy’s bosses can alway have him swoop in to give bad advice or encourage it to be given, or for a hook-up when the woman is running low on time before a big deadline, needs her life otherwise disrupted, or is about to get into a relationship with a real liberal guy?

Sure, conservatives wouldn’t want liberals to have families, be seen as having families, or see themselves as having families- to have a stable community of friends, rather than a group of friends that is constantly cheating on, cuckholding, and divorcing each other. And who cares if you wanted to have real relationships and raise kids? Messing up your life is a fun way for a conservative to make the world what they see as a better place and only hurts a person who they think doesn’t really count.

I always ask myself, Would they do it if someone suggested it? and if the answer is yes, my guess is they did it.

Would you think that was serious?

How To Annoy Republicans


[Closed for editing]

We all have to wonder. . .


I've got to wonder, in light of the headlines: what kind of world is this where veterans at the veterans retirement home live in such bad conditions that can get maggots in a wound, and an army hospital keeps patients in similar misearble conditions, but people try to bully prosecutors into letting big tobacco off the hook? What kind of Republicans are these?


Writing my recent blog posts reminded me of a few things, the kind of things that substantiate what I write about but that I don't often cite or repeat- trusting that you'll all have read basically the same things I have read and have an idea of how I'm getting my opinion. This makes my posts shorter and saves me time but I'd like to recount some of these things now to give a greater perspective on the kinds of personalities I've described in my last few posts. First off, consider an anecdote you might have heard of from Hillary Clinton's Living History. In the book, Hillary Clinton talked about a guy who worked at the White House or in the executive branch during her husband's presidency who worked in a security capacity, or whose job involved security expertise. The guy was an ex-FBI agent or something like that. He didn't get along with any of the staffers in the Clinton White House and he went on to write a tell-all book about his experiences there, in which his biggest revelations and complaints consisted of stuff like not liking the manners of staffers serving themselves from the White House cafeteria. This is the kind of stuff we should all be used to by now from observing Republicans' behavior- all their deepest held beliefs are founded on irrational, arbitrary quibbles about liberals' personal behavior. When a Republican breaks little social rules, they consider it cool and cute and a demonstration of their knowing which lines can be crossed. When liberals do it, it's always wrong, and every nuance of behavior or miniscule screw-up you have is always goofy, dorky, and a symptom of something deeply wrong with you morally or psychologically. Hillary recounts a precious instance of first meeting this guy during which he gave her a stern stare and wouldn't part eyes from her. From a white guy's point of view, it really sounds like what happened is this guy wanted to stare Hillary Clinton down. Why would he do that? After having read it all, it really sounded to me like this guy just has a fantasy about himself being the ultimate man and the ultimate warrior, and in his fantasy world women can't be leaders, or can't be without somehow implicitly acknowledging his super-heroness and drawing her eyes aware from his world-tempered stare. My reaction to that kind of guy, is Oh, please. Guess what, buddy, women can be capable leaders too and just because you love yourself doesn't mean anything- it doesn't mean you're especially strong, and especially if your actions show you're actually a petty fool who cares most about what every single woman thinks about you- particularly, trying to dominate those women for no reason. And this is no matter whether she's your boss or whether the woman doesn't even have anything to do with you.Here's another story about how great these guys who believe in a fantasy of their own manliness and righteousness are: according to the Justice Department’s inspector general, the “FBI engaged in widespread and serious misuse of its authority in illegally gathering telephone, e-mail and financial records of Americans and foreigners while hunting terrorists.” Glenn Fine, the internal watchdog who revealed the data-gathering abuses said “It really was unacceptable and inexcusable what happened here” (Hat tip to the Carpetbagger Report). What were they gathering those e-mails and telephone records for? Their own personal use? To make a list of people they don't like? Is the FBI their tool to pursue some kind of absurd hobby? Does every FBI agent who has this power use it to investigate the people he knows and the women he meets just for the hell of it? In short, who are these losers who did[...]

Who Conservatives Are


Thinking about my last few posts has prompted me to think of some other things. A while ago I wrote something in which I talked about Republicans as being like bullies. I want to elaborate here a little more for people who wouldn't know on what I think those people might be like- the people who really make decisions for the conservatives now, as opposed to the rest of the conservatives. This will help you to understand what you're up against realistically.

Those who are, I think, choosing the direction of the conservative movement are pretty ugly individuals. Picture a guy who's biggest peeve is that he's heard people from other countries say one or two times that they think of Americans as fat, couch potatoes, basically wimps- not tough guys. This ignoramus wants, for some reason, everybody around the globe when they hear ugly middle class Americans' voices when they're taking their vacations at some tourist trap to break out in fearful trembling and think, "Oh no! Americans!" For some reason it is the most important thing in the world for this guy that people start to see our lazy, messy, self-centered, rude fat asses as some kind of dangerous thugs as be horrified when they see a middle-aged, middle-class American woman out with a couple of her young kids. His wet dream is that we're a warrior nation, and he wants to mold us into what he thinks that is, for no other reason than it makes him feel good, despite what the incidental consequences of his efforts would be if he could accomplish them, which he does not know. Or picture the jock from high school grown up and running things- his biggest grudge against the world was that there might be a young woman that might reject him, might like an artsy guy or a guy who's into music better. These guys are so sensitive and have such fragile personalities that to them it's the biggest blow in the world that every single girl does not think that the best guy is him and prefer muscles, height and dumbness over any other attributes a guy could have, every time. So when a girl does go for another guy, especially one not like him, he feels petty spite and literal feels that the girl and the guy deserve to be hurt for the injustice of him not being preferred over everybody else all the time. Picture somebody who never really cares when his own relatives or friends get sick or injured.

Liberals are really missing, I think, a lot of the time when they try to imagine the minds they are up against, that they are opposing politically. You tend to take the public face of the GOP and mix that in with your own psychological needs for comfort from the world around you, and you don't adequately explain where all the ugliness you've encountered in life goes and why it is not running things. You don't consider the actions of people and groups and try to explain what kind of mind pursues those actions. If you try to correct for these sources of error I think you will understand much better where the GOP is going and what they are.

Defense against assholes


In these unusual times, a lot of people, or a lot of people who just didn't know enough about politics, may find themselves working for assholes. A question arises then, what should you do if you find yourself working for assholes, let's say if you're a minority and you find that the people who patronized you, who you work for, are really racist. You got what seemed like the best job in the world, and you were happy about that, but now you have to face the truth. What should you do?

In Nazi Germany, things went so bad and the Nazis got so powerful only because many people were intimidated- that's true enough. But the Nazis were brought down partly because so many people feigned loyalty- survived the Nazis' purges on undesirables, and the secretly disloyal- and then used their positions to undermine the Nazis. There was a man I read about who was a high-up official in the German intelligence during WWII, who was actually a very right-wing German, and he disagreed with Hitler because he saw what Hitler was doing as wrecking his country. He pretended to be loyal, though, and Hitler trusted him, made him a higher-up in the intelligence agency, and from that position the guy was able to do a lot to screw up Hitler's plans in the war. This guy saw himself as saving lives in the long-run, which of course is true.

If you find yourself in a good job that you could have only dreamed of, the type that would impress your friends and family, but then find out the people you are working for are assholes, but the job is so hard to leave you didn't want to believe it at first, I think you should consider staying and doing your part. I don't think you should worry about people like me, any other specific liberals. I think you should try just being exactly what they want to see from you, staying on and looking realistic as possible, and then you can do more to help things get better. And remember, people often believe the most not what's the most believeable, but what they most want to believe. So it might be the best route if some guy sees you as a loyal, obedient person who is in awe of how great he is (even if he secretly gets to think that you're just another inferior person he can screw over and that you're going to get what's coming to you when the assholes get a chance).

Similarly, if you find you've made friends with a conwoman, you actually shouldn't stay friends with her. If you do, even if you hinted to other people not to trust her, your friends could make their own judgments and end up deceived into something really bad. Even if you have a feeling the conwoman is not so bad, if her loyalty is to someone else she might still decide to do the bad things they order her to do to you, or if they see that she's like that, they might keep everything they want to do hidden from her, and just let her see her part of the job, while letting her think she's being told everything so she'll trust them. If you stay friends with a conwoman, 1) You should have specific reasons for doing it that have to do with solving the problem of getting deceived by a conwoman, and 2) you should have specific plans for how you are not going to let yourself and others be harmed. But not wanting to feel stupid is actually not a reason to stay friends with her. You can not let her know you suspect her and still stop talking to her; a lot of naive people actually overestimate the effect that confronting a deceiver will have on them, and end up doubly deceived when the conwoman or man stays cool under questioning.

An imaginary exercise


* I updated this a little bit and added three sentences. In these unusual times we live in, I hope you'll join me in what might be a fruitful imaginary exercise for a moment, the better to examine the lessons of the past. When people think about the Holocaust, they often marvel that six million modern, savvy, well-off people could be led to their deaths so easily. Scholars examine this, and they determine that one of the reasons that so many went to their deaths so passively is because a lot of the Jews were cooperating more closely with the Nazis, as basically subordinates in dealing with the Jews. This helped the Nazis conduct the final solution more efficiently, because they dealt with their victims through intermediaries who knew about them, and the faith the Jews had in their leaders led them to trust the voices who were telling them that their problems might be solved if they'd only abandon all their property, go live in a camp for a while, or give up their business to an ethnic German or wear a yellow star on their clothes, or whatever other surrender of rights was called for. That these leaders got some of the Jews to participate gave an air of legitimacy to following the orders, and the others Jews who would not have followed in the absence of seeing some other people follow were won over. Then, a bandwagon effect was created, and even people who wouldn't think too much about who to trust or who remained very skeptical of the Nazis' orders went along. So all these people went unknowingly to their deaths until it was too late, and despite hearing rumors that the camps Jews were being sent off to were actually death camps. If we live in interesting times today, it may be worthwhile to consider what is the equivalent in America of getting some of the people to cooperate to make oppression of the rest possible.So people can screw you over the best by getting help from some of your own. Now begins the exercise: let's say you're a liberal. Now, people come to see you who you suspect of being Republicans, or think are totally nonpartisan, or you suspect of being slightly conservative. They decide to tell you some fantastic things, and they ask you to help them in their project. The question is, are they really complete ideologues, like the George Bush White House, complete Rush Limbaugh nuts who are only working for partisan advancement, or are they regular people who have legitimate goals? They talk very nicely to you, without any open contempt. They tell you that they need your help in dealing with a threat posed by someone who, in the absence of what they're telling you, seems to be a very nice person. Why shouldn't you think that these people who have come to talk to you are totally legit? The answer comes from something we learned in law school: giving 'em the headlines. If you want to be persuasive, and get people on your side, you want to be the first one that tells them everything. You don't want the other side to tell them anything having to do with your problem you haven't told them first. At best, you don't want the other side to get to tell his side of the story at all. This is why the Rush Limbaugh types, the Republicans might actually try to get you on their side first, and not be openly disdainful of you as a liberal, even if what they're trying to get you to do is participate in something totally wrong- like the political firings of the prosecutors, and all the other scandals and abuses of power Republicans created- if they can get you to believe it. This is why it's preferable, at the best for them, to effectively make [...]

Some more thoughts on the CIA


(This is a follow-up on a post on the CIA and the Iraq war from a few weeks ago)Over the past few years, the CIA has been mentioned in the media much more frequently than it had been before that. Often, as I noted in my previous post, these reports have supplied fodder for the inference that the CIA is a nonpartisan organization (unlike Fox News, many other federal bureaus and regulatory agencies since Bush came to office, and, at least to a lesser degree, probably every other institution in contemporary America) or at least for the inference that it is nonpolitical enough to be professional and competent in the face of a White House and legislative branch which have been increasingly exposed as exploiting their powers and responsibilities for selfish political gain, and, unfortunately, for little else. However, for liberals, this description belies what for many of us had been old hat and common sense. Prior to 9/11, a well-informed, well-educated liberal could hear of or read the stories of how the CIA was involved in fomenting massacres of innocent civilians in South America, and of how the FBI was extremely racist not very long ago, and how in the COINTELPRO cases (Hobson v. Wilson, etc.) the FBI was found liable for harassing and committing civil rights violations against activist groups-- acts beyond its legal authority. Today, the FBI are treated as heroes in movies, but not too long ago, in pursuit of racist goals, they were hunting down politically active liberals of any race to harass them and destroy their lives. Having heard these stories, one has to wonder what kind of people these groups draw their personnel from, and to wonder how we know some change has occurred so that the personnel who used to be racist in these groups, are all now somehow replaced, or not racist anymore, so that these groups cannot be using their power anachronistically to promote aims that are contrary to the values of the American people. Common sense- in addition to the anecdotes we've heard about the FBI or the CIA- tells us that no one kind of people, no people in any particular context (whether race, occupation, or geographic location, etc.) are uniformly great, moral people. All sorts of institutions have a variety of people working for them, in terms of aptitude and morality. And these institutions go through cycles of becoming corrupt and abused and well-functioning. With all the focus on the CIA in the news, that common sense may make one wonder who are all these people, what are the ways their actions may be reviewed and who reviews them, what really governs them, how can they be fired if individual people within the CIA are capable of doing so much covertly, how they can be trusted not to hire people and assign people to jobs and promote people on illegitimate bases (such as political party affiliation, holding of racist views, or religion) and how we can be sure their judgment and their methods are competent. Take this a little further and consider the CIA with your common sense in the context of today's time. With all the concern over civil liberties since 9/11 happened, it's natural to wonder who are the people who so badly want to be able to torture suspects in their custody that whether to augment their authority becomes a national controversy. Especially when those suspects turn out to be innocent of wrongdoing- just cab-drivers and such and not terrorists (if the CIA were so excellent, you'd think we wouldn't hear stories like this, wouldn't you?). Look at this in the context of history and consider what oth[...]

Focus On The Family


The Carpetbagger Report, in a recent post, reported how James Dobson responded to
the Media Matters report on this obvious conservative bias of the Sunday-morning politics talkshows. Dobson's subordinate's complaints included, for one, that Focus was afraid that Dobson would get spoken to in a disapproving tone. I've actually noted Tim Russert's modus operandi of of his voice to communicate approval for Republicans and disapproval for Democrats. I expect Dobson would receive the same warm treatment from Tim.

the media and blogs


Just a little sidenote on this post from yesterday: if the media is doing all this on mainstream newspapers and tv stations, including news channels, how much easier would it be to accomplish the same effect with blogs?

How do you know for sure that all the bloggers you love best aren't something different than they claim to be? Reason by analogy from Republicans' voting in other parties' primaries. That's a long-standing and common practice, that wasn't hard for people to think up- you kow Republicans have been involved in many similar practices. And what if like 85% of the commenters on a favorite blog you read weren't really liberals, but were there to create a misperception and a bandwagon effect? How hard wouldn't that really be to do?

A Few Words On The Media


A few days ago, the Carpetbagger wrote this and I wrote this. So what's going on with the media? I think everyone who pays attention can agree it seems like something- from our own experiences with the major outlets, to what we see reported on in the blogs, to all the things Media Matters catches because they're looking for it all the time, the irregularities in the media have been proven, beyond a reasonable doubt, irregular. FNC's regular promotion of statements a blog later proves false, or headlines that are misleading, without ever a correction or a retraction, make FNC's operations equal to those of a propaganda news organization in a fascist state. So I have to ask you, if someone is using improper influence on major newspapers throughout the country as well as major news channels, why after all these years hasn't evidence turned up? Why hasn't the scandal come to light as evidence of any scandal involving bumbling party politicians and activists always inevitably does? If this is just the people who do K-street, if this is just the Harriet Miers types, the young Republicans, the people who were involved in the prosecutor purge scandal or the outing of Valerie Plame-- just threatening to blacklist people or to spread gossip about them, the usual modus operandi we always hear about by way of explanation-- why hasn't somebody leaked something about it this time? Think about that, and you'll start to appreciate why I write on my blog and say in my videos that someone has to create an organization to deal with the threat of FNC, and the problem has to be taken seriously by liberals.

Dick Cheney


On Wednesday, the Carpetbagger mentioned that Dick Cheney is refusing to allow reporters who interview him while he's on a trip abroad to quote him by name. The Carpetbagger thinks that this behavior is a snub that reflects disdain for the media, after days of Dick's refusing to talk to the reporters who were following him around. I think that's not what it is. I think that the Vice President is becoming extremely paranoid because he's up to his neck in criminal exposure and despicable deeds. I think that he doesn't want to be quoted by name because he's worried about people tea-leaf reading anything into his comments that could end up leading someone (a reporter, a colleague, a blogger, etc.) to something that could hurt his reputation and career. Think about it: this is Dick Cheney, whose office retains 81 staff members (no one knows why) but adamantly refuses to give out their names when asked. When it started to become an issue people were looking at (people were wondering why would he be so silent about who was working for him) then it finally turned up that there was one list that somebody disclosed the names of all the people working for him to. But prior to that, why deny requests for the names of his staff members all along?

The CIA and the Iraq War


Ever since the months prior to the 2003 invasion of Iraq, there have been a few reports in the newspapers that the Central Intelligence Agency was casting aspersions on the intelligence the White House was relying on to justify the war. The CIA has never given a position on whether the war is needed or justified or said that Bush is wrong to go to war. But doesn't it seem much more likely that the CIA is an extremely right wing organization than a left wing one? After all, even if the people working for them and at least a lot of the leadership really wanted a war for their own reasons, there are a lot of reasons for them to not want to tie their credibility to what they know is faulty information. They and their personnel, present and former, could use other means of promoting the Iraq war, and still be motivated to make the statements in the media. If the CIA got behind faulty information, they would have to make a choice between whether they would be involved in scamming the American people and the world once the military had invaded Iraq and no weapons were found- so: 1) Imagine the incredible difficulties involved in pulling off a hoax that weapons of mass destruction were found in Iraq. Imagine all the people you would have to be able to show the weapons to- the inspectors from the UN / the international community, the American press, statesmen, etc. Then imagine the difficulties of substantiating that story to people who would examine it- the lack of witnesses to a production plant that made the weapons or to transportation operations or storage of the weapons during Hussein's regime of them. 2) If the story fell apart upon inspection or the CIA tried not to hoax it at all, imagine the loss of credibility they would suffer. The CIA, it is safe to bet, does not want to be known to the American people as a group that lies to them to send them to war. Even within the CIA there could be disagreement among people about how involved they should be in promoting the war or the neo-con agenda more broadly, so the CIA would have to worry about lying to and managing its own people after trying so hard to get them to trust their superiors in the agency, and perhaps there simply might be too many people in the agency who knew enough about what was going on in Iraq to know if someone was deceiving people to promote this war.

So there is a lot of reason to be cautious against being seen as endorsing what they knew was false intelligence even if they were very strong supporters of going to war.