Friday, August 19, 2005

More on the Roberts-Bush "Favorgate"

Dig it. Gitmo ruling for USSC nomination. Quid pro quo.

Amazing.

14 Thoughts:

Blogger Doug said...

And more.

Friday, August 19, 2005 11:01:00 AM  
Blogger Kyahgirl said...

So many of the people I know in Blogworld seem to despise Bush and his cohorts. I wonder if that reflects the general sentiment in the US or if I'm just seeing a slice? Somebody must like him, he's in power!
In the Canadian news he comes off in a bad light and I have a hard time such a narrowminded, righteous bully. What is the real picture?

Friday, August 19, 2005 6:26:00 PM  
Blogger pawlr said...

Its hard to say what he's really like, since he has really made a caricature of himself for the purpose of getting elected. I don't know what Canada's elections are like, but here the people demand that their candidates contort themselves into bizarre, one-sided simulacra of humanity.

Friday, August 19, 2005 7:19:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

Bush pretty much is the worst president since Nixon; arguably the worst ever.

However, he seems to have some hard core of support to augment his election fraud. It's a divided country down here -- 9/11 has a lot to do with it, but let's face it: the US has been way screwed up ever since it decided to get into the Empire game in 1898 (or 1950, depending on how you slice it...)

Canada's got it pretty much right, in other words!

Friday, August 19, 2005 11:04:00 PM  
Blogger pawlr said...

I think Moore had a point in "Bowling For Columbine" - its all about Fear down here. Fear of losing your shit, your life, your guns, your soul. And the more you fear, the more you try to fill the void with Daddy action figures - little men with pursed lips who jut out their chins and reduce complex geopolitics to folksy little cliches.

The thing I worry about most in the next 50 years is whether America, as it slowly drifts down the main sequence of empires, can avoid going Nova on the rest of the world's collective ass. I really hope the progressives here will succeed in Europifying this beast before we burn up everythign in sight.

Friday, August 19, 2005 11:13:00 PM  
Blogger Demotiki said...

Pawl,

Yeah, I think you are right. I had dinner with my doctor uncle who thought he was rather bright. He was talking about the threat posed by radical islam. I told him that I was far more afraid of radical Christians because they not only have the bomb, but they have an awful lot of them. European nations benefit from seeing how programs work in other EU countries. This "demonstration effect" is supposed to be part of our federal system, but since the federal government has emerged as so powerful, we learn very little from comparative government. God knows we never look to the other industrialized countries for ideas.

The worm is turning. Let's make sure we exploit it to the hilt this time. Nixon's folk should have been banned from politics for the rest of their lives, we dropped the ball. This time, all these criminals need to go to jail and do hard time. Exploitation is the key.

Friday, August 19, 2005 11:20:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

Paul, you nailed it with the Bowling for Columbine reference. This country is ruled by fear -- fear of aging, fear of death, fear of poverty, fear of brown people...etc.

I got an e-mail from my aunt warning about HIV-infected hypodermics being attached (somehow) to the bottom of gas station pumps...this has been going 'round the Internet for at least 5 years.

She never stopped to consider how this purported "terrorism" could possibly occur -- you know, in the real world. The fear was there, and she, very kindly, warned all her relatives about the horrific news.

Now, my aunt is a lovely person -- my point is: she, like so many timorous Americans, are ready to believe whatever fearful nonsense passes their view.

Instructive, that. A nation of cowards is what we've become, in large part. And a scared animal is very dangerous.

Saturday, August 20, 2005 10:38:00 AM  
Blogger Kyahgirl said...

Thanks for your thoughts on my question. The fear is an interesting point. I'd suggest ignorance too.
I grew up in southern B.C., about 5 miles from the US border. I was always amazed how little Americans in Northern Washington knew about Canada and Canadians when they lived right next door. Perhaps the education system keeps the people of the US ignorant, thus more easily swayed by fear?
When I was in high school we went on a band trip to Davenport WA. We were billeted out at people's homes. The Mom of my billet gave me a tour of their home when I got there and was pointing out things like TVs and telephones, asking if we have those things in Canada. I was embarrassed for her. This would have been in the mid 70s. Why would anyone think we didn't have similar technology unless their mind had never been opened to the possibility? Ignorance can so easily lead to fear and intolerance.
Don't think for a minute that I'm holding Americans in disdain. I have many, many dear friends and colleagues in the States and in fact, realize, I wouldn't be chatting with you people if you weren't open to ideas. I can't help but feel that some solutions would lie in better education and more open acceptance of foreign/alien ideas. Comes back to why I ahbor censorship and progpaganda....which is the original trail that led me here from that other blog.

Saturday, August 20, 2005 11:24:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

Ignorance and fear walk hand in hand, l/k, I agree.

We have a simply abysmal public education system -- and the "fixes" suggested have been moronic teaching-to-the-test, underfunded No Child Left Behind stupidity, plus the federal funding, indirectly, of religious schools through vouchers.

God forbid we should curtail our $450bn/year defense budget, or cancel, say, SDI, and funnel that money into a huge increase in teacher salaries, which would attract a much higher level of teacher.

Anyway, 40+ states are currently considering whether to include "Intelligent Design" in the curriculum, so, you do the math...I'm not sure many Americans can still do math! :)

Saturday, August 20, 2005 12:44:00 PM  
Blogger Demotiki said...

Before we throw the baby out with the bathwater, let us remember that at least a few states in the Union are populated with educated, worldly citizens who accept that the government is well possitioned to solve collective action problems and to protect the commons. Doug and I have often talked about how great it is not to live in a "Red State." Better government creates better citizens. It's no accident that Red States have far greater problems with a whole host of social ills ranging from underage drinking to divorce rates.

I don't know about Canada, but the US is just plain less civilized than the rest of the industrialized world. This is good and bad. There is a raw energy that comes from being barbaric, but it doesn't win you friends in the international community.

Edith Warton's novels of 19th Century Manhattan show social division that still plague our nation. Wealthy New Yorkers identified more with European elite culture than with that of their own country. Eventually, the East lost out in the demographic game. Today, all some Southern Yahoo has to say is that an intelligent and well reasoned politician is "from the Northeast," to kill the poor fellow's political career. Anti-intellectualism is now part and parcel of American politics, mainly as a reaction to the Eastern power brokers of the last century. Nevermind that those easterners made this country great and won two world wars, they smell like women.

Saturday, August 20, 2005 5:10:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

Anti-intellecutalism has been with us since the beginning -- as Hofstadter's great book showed.

You're right, Andrew, the Adlai-Stevenson-effect is alive and well.

However, one quibble: I see a ton of wacko megachurches in RI, plus many Bush stickers. "Red" and "Blue" tends to be a bit Platonic -- we're talking percentages here. That's why I agree with Dean's national strategy -- there are plenty of supposedly red states that can go blue...Virginia, Ohio, etc.

But, yes, there are plenty of well-educated folks in the US. I think the fear factor (pun intended) shortcircuits thought in many folks who ought to know better -- and do when they're not in psychological thrall to visions of fear and equally lame visions of triumph.

Saturday, August 20, 2005 6:04:00 PM  
Blogger Demotiki said...

Doug,

Yeah, I agree with that, fear eliminates true contemplation. However, laziness has the same effect. To a great extent, intellectual laziness is the product of a cowardly reaction to perceived threats. Rather than take the time to understand the roots of terror, the lazy coward points the finger and calls for a quick and simple solution: war. Most are too cowardly to actually take responsibility for their thought, so they look for a lazy leader.

My point about "Red" vs. "Blue" states is that good government does make a difference. Yes, there are obviously "Blue" people in "Red" states and visa versa. I also agree with the 50 State Plan. However, the better educated and sophisticated populations we have in "Blue" states are more likely to choose better leaders and much less likely to buy into the "God hates Fags or Blacks," arguments that have been so central to Republican electoral dominance in the South. One of the reasons the push-polling and other dirty tricks employed by Lee Atwater & Co. are so disturbing is that we in the "Blue" states can't understand how people can be so stupid. . .

I disagree with your point about the predominance of "mega-churches" in New England. These churches are far less common than they are elsewhere in the country and have zero political pull.

New England, and Boston in particular, has always been one of the most religious regions of the country. Even today we have more churches per capita than any other part of the country. However, our sense of religion is more mature, because it is older. New England religion is philosophically more advanced than say, Southern Churches. While New England Churches are busy feeding and housing the homeless or helping the elderly, Southern Churches spend more time getting corrupt politicians elected and picking on minorities like gays, blacks and the transgender.

Oddly enough, I know several Bush supporters from my son's school. They are all poor and struggling to get by with single parent households, low and unpredictable incomes and high rent. They don't know anything about the issues. They are too busy trying to get by to even think about "policy." The things that matter to them are

1. The social environment their children live in.
2. The economy
3. National Security (although they admit they have no idea what this means.)

By far the most important factor is what they see as a rapidly changing environment for their children. They don’t feel it’s changing for the better. Above all they fear the movement of sexuality into the public sphere. We know it's Republicans like Murdoch and Brittany Spears who are most responsible for this trend, but they buy into the idea that it's a Liberal Conspiracy.

Another related aspect of the social environment that they fear is the presence of "black culture;” sexually charged and violent gansta-rappers, hip-hop hucksters, and even sports stars. I have no idea if there is a racist background to this fear. However, I do know that the culture they decry does differ in very important ways from the cultural atmosphere they wish to raise their children in. As far as I can tell, it is still politically incorrect to state this concern in Liberal circles – a fact not lost on these poor Republicans. Many well-meaning lefties might say, “well, white middle class teenagers buy that crap.” This is correct, but oddly enough, this is exactly what bothers these people.

Andrew

Saturday, August 20, 2005 7:31:00 PM  
Blogger pawlr said...

"Your ideas are terrifying and your hearts are faint. Your acts of
pity and cruelty are absurd, committed with no calm, as if they were irresistible. Finally, you fear blood more and more. Blood and time."
--Paul Valery

Sunday, August 21, 2005 2:19:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

Hi, Andrew --

Sorry, I just saw this comment of yours.

I think you're right on about intellectual laziness -- "critical thinking," which is hard, isn't really taught all that well, apparently. Wouldn't be good for business, of course, if folks actually were taught to identify bullshit.

I don't think (and didn't write) that megachurches are predominant in RI; just that they are most definitely present, especially in the northern part of the state. Just as a red state can go blue, the opposite can happen, too. Just something to be vigilant about.

I'm not sure where you get your info on Southern vs. Northern churches and their activities. I mean, I get your very general point, but I'm certain there are especially black churches in the South that are quite amenable to "Northern" ways of looking at society. I think you're most concerned with Southern Baptists and other newly-founded or newly-"reactionized" churches, which I agree with (i.e., New Life, et al). I'm just not sure argument-by-locale, which I'm also guilty of in more rhetorical or angry or jokey moments, is actually all that helpful, when we're in "serious discussion mode." We need all the allies we can get, wherever they live, which is why that "boycott the Red States" notion post-2004 election was really just silly (not that you favored it).

You might want to point out to those worried about the "sexualization" of our culture that it is, first, the direct outcome of a completely free-market ideology (amoral markets sell what sells) and, second, not really that big a deal. We are still such a Puritan country -- and New England is to "blame" for that, historically! LOL. I mean, constant violence on TV is fine, but sex is somehow evil? I never bought it, and we'd all probably be a lot less violent if we were all getting laid, guilt-free, a lot more often. (See Kubrick's Strangelove and Full Metal Jacket for some excellent filmic commentary on the relationship between repressed sexuality and expressed violence.)

On those aspects of supposedly "black culture" that bother the Bush supporters you refer to, I'd be willing to bet the proverbial farm that at least part of it is racism. To even refer to "sexually charged and violent gansta-rappers, hip-hop hucksters, and even sports stars" as the sum total of American "black culture" is in itself racist, at least "passively." Have these people read James Baldwin, just to name one person? Do they read Henry Louis Gates? Do they even know who those two people I selected at random are?

"Black culture" is as varied a thing as "any-other-modifier" culture -- some of it's bad, some of it's good, both aesthetically and ethically -- and folks will disagree on both. But, again, the invisible hand cares not for anyone's morality, and aims for the most common aesthetic in order to sell as much product as possible. Furthermore, last time I looked, Brittany, Eminem, and Madonna were white -- to name three mega-stars.

I wonder how often people consider that those aspects of "black culture" they consider pernicious are in fact reflections of the larger, American culture? Maybe it's all of us, and not just "them."

In any event, I, for one, might not like homophobic rap lyrics -- but they don't kill people. I'm not for censorship of any kind -- better to keep things expressed and out in the open. I notice that conservative Republicans don't seem to be too concerned with banning Jonathan Swift, who is as ribald and cartoon-violent as any gangsta rapper, distinctions of aesthetic worth aside.

And, after all, what happened to the "parental responsibility" and "personal responsibility" that Bushies and righties in general scream about nonstop? Is the market forcing people to consume that stuff -- regardless of the skin color of those consumers, or producers? With all due respect to the barrage of advertising we live in, which I deplore but ignore, you (not you, Andrew) can't argue it both ways and be consistent. Either you have to love (or at least accept) all the results of an unbridled free market (and, parenthetically, mercury poisoning bothers me a whole lot more than song lyrics or videos, as the former kills and deforms and emanates from the same amoral invisible hand) or you have to admit that in some areas of culture, the free market should be curtailed. Then we can argue which areas and why. I can't take those who want to keep the healthcare marketized (and increasingly so, despite all evidence that it's a disaster to the contrary), as any hindrance of the Holy Market would be "socialist," despite the cost in lives and money, but at the same time deem rock or rap lyrics the font of all evil. That's a pretty twisted morality to me -- and this from supposedly "pro-life" folks! It's a larf.

So, what people consider morally repulsive is worth a national conversation. What's worse? -- girls in skimpy bikinis on MTV -- or the acceptable "white" version currently known as Desperate Housewives, which garnered double-digit Emmy nominations, and which follows the generic conventions of softcore porn to a T (I was roped into watching an episode) -- or killing upwards of 100,000 people Iraqis and 1850-ish American soldiers for a war based on lies? Saying "fuck" at the Grammys or stalling the civilized world on the terrible life-threatening emergency of global warming for the sake of oil companies, who contribute to your political campaigns? Showing a nipple during the Super Bowl or the White House Press Corps acting like seals at Sea World at feeding time when issues of life, death, and our way of government are at stake? These are some of the questions that need to be aired and discussed.

As Brando said in Apocalypse Now -- reportedly, his line, and I'm paraphrasing -- "Our pilots cannot write 'fuck' on the bombs they are sent to drop becasue it's obscene." Complications of that character aside (i.e., lifting that line out of the context of the fiction in which it resides), that is still worth pondering.

Americans like violence more than sex, apparently. I have no answer as to why, but could it be that the twisted "morality" of the regnant religion, which is completely anti-sex, anti-women, anti-intellectual, anti-human, and anti-pleasure, might kinda be -- oh, I don't know -- just slightly at fault here? LOL!

Monday, August 22, 2005 4:56:00 PM  

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