about the lead-up to the new kind of war,
the war on Iraq.
Here is an elegant reflection on where we stand today and a plea to . . .
A Time To Weep
Full text of commencement address to the New School University on May 21, 2004.
|"This is not
a speech. Two weeks ago I set aside the speech I prepared. This is a cry
from the heart, a lamentation for the loss of this country's goodness and
therefore its greatness.
"Future historians studying the decline and fall of America will mark this as the time the tide began to turn -- toward a mean-spirited mediocrity in place of a noble beacon..."
"...The stain on our credibility, our reputation for decency and integrity, will not quickly wash away..."
|November 7, 2004
The Politics of Victimization
Mel Gilles, who has worked for many years as an advocate for victims of domestic abuse, draws some parallels between her work and the reaction of many Democrats to the election.-- Mathew Gross
|"Watch Dan Rather apologize
for not getting his facts straight, humiliated before the eyes of
America, voluntarily undermining his credibility and career of over
thirty years.... Listen as Donna and Nancy Pelosi and Senator Charles Schumer
take to the airwaves saying that they have to go back to the drawing board
and learn from their mistakes and try to be better, more likable, more
appealing, have a stronger message, speak to morality."
"Listen to George Bush say that the will of God excuses his behavior. Listen, as he refuses to take responsibility, or express remorse, or even once, admit a mistake. Watch him strut, and tell us that he will only work with those who agree with him, and that each of us is only allowed one question..."
A direction for future investigations that must be taken very seriously
November 6, 2004
|Evidence Mounts That The
Vote May Have Been Hacked
by Thom Hartmann
"This was no mere mistake. Exit polls cannot be as wrong across the board as they were on election night. I suspect foul play."
polls are very reliable statistical tools used to test the honesty of elections
in third-world countries.
2. Statistical concepts are more often than not not understood: if they were widely understood, gambling casinos and lotteries would be extremely rare.
3. The advertising techniques intensively used in the 2004 elections--and one of Carl Rove's trademark techniques--are based on the principles elucidated in The Fine Art of Propaganda published by the Institute for Propaganda Analysis in 1939. American mass media are saturated with this kind of very effective persuasion. See PAP.
4. Testable hypothesis: The very sharp split in the American electorate in 2004 is caused by the sharp differences in intellectual abilities needed to critically evlauate (and effectively use) information--perhaps the most important function of education. (Preference in the election should strongly correlate with readership in Consumer Reports?)
5. The election of 2004 appears to be the erosion of democracy that John Platt warned about more than 40 years ago: "What We Must Do"
Today (May-June 2005) ?
George Galloway makes some observations that are seen by some as "merely his opinions."
Others see his observations as facts which must be worked into any valid conclusions about future actions.
Many see conclusions, especially if they are political, as not subject to guidelines of logic: "All opinions are equally valid."
The slippery slopes of oversimplification
Look here "for a man rare enough to tell the truth to the US Congress."
Short Tales from Bizarro World
"I met Saddam Hussein exactly the same number of times as Donald Rumsfeld met him. The difference is that Donald Rumsfeld met him to sell him guns, and to give him maps the better to target those guns." --George Galloway, Respect MP for Bethnal Green and Bow, 05/17/05 You know things have gone more than a bit around the bend when it takes a British MP with a hard Scottish brogue to throw a little truth against the walls of the U.S. Senate chamber to see what will stick."
"Bizarro World" described here exemplifies a core oversimplification about
which we build our pseudoscience, our destructive human relationships (politics
that sets each side plundering the other, for example), and our blundering
into disaster (playing the lottery to climb
out of poverty, for example).
It's also steeped in the ubiquitous inverted implication, the bizarre responses we make, and observe others making, when we immerse ourselves in, for example, that simple-but-difficult puzzle of selecting cards, Wason's Card Puzzle.
If you feel strongly that someone is making some point that is fundamentally irrational, but you can't quite put your finger on exactly what's wrong with it, odds are that implications are getting imiproperly inverted; odds are that unnoticed oversimplifications are being made that render the argument meaningless; and the odds are very good that you can get some flashes of insight (EUREKA!) about it by looking deeply in these "places that you never before thought to look."
Vandana ShivaIt's important to build up more and more recoinitions of why Vandana Shiva also said, "Once you see it you can never again not see it."
Do we concentrate on confirmations?
Do we concentrate on disconfirmations?The first leads to pseudoscience.
The second leads to science.The first is the easier way.
The second is the harder way.The first is a slippery slope to disaster.
The second is necessary to avoid slippery slopes.This first is to dumb down.
The second is to wise up.The first could be the current human path in evolution.
The second is the path that got us where we are.
Some earlier Letters from
Southern California are given here for their historical interest.
They remind us of some assiduously ignored facts about the 2000 presidential election:
11/10/00 The Elderly Jews of Southern Florida...and 62 Years Ago
Tonight Michael Moore
11/14/00 The Presidency. Just Another Perk Michael Moore
11/17/00 Blame Monica! Michael Moore
11/17/00 Sworn Affidavit Richard Yellin
Night Before Christmas--2002
December, 2002 Doug Fuller
|"Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the
not a critic was stirring, for stirring was banned.
A thousand brown prisoners, snug in their cells,
all held without charges or tinsel or bells;..."
|The United States of America Has
1/15/03 John Le Carré
|"The reaction to 9/11 is beyond anything Osama bin Laden could have hoped for in his nastiest dreams. As in McCarthy times, the freedoms that have made America the envy of the world are being systematically eroded. The combination of compliant US media and vested corporate interests is once more ensuring that a debate that should be ringing out in every town square is confined to the loftier columns of the East Coast press. "|
|If You Want to Win the Election, Just Control the Voting
1/31/03 Thom Hartmann
|"Perhaps, after a half-century of fine-tuning exit polling to such a science that it's now sometimes used to verify how clean elections are in Third World countries, it really did suddenly become inaccurate in the United States in the past six years and just won't work here anymore. Perhaps it's just a coincidence that the sudden rise of inaccurate exit polls happened around the same time corporate-programmed, computer-controlled, modem-capable voting machines began recording and tabulating ballots. But if any of this is true, there's not much of a paper trail from the voters' hand to prove it. "|
2/9/03 Truth behind poison factory claim: Luke
|Ed Gernon lost his job when he:
|"Don't give up your vote," he said. "Don't ever give up your right to think, to feel, to have a voice. That's what this kind of leader does to you. There's a sense that each person would be better if they surrendered to this greater good."|
2/15/03 Merci for the French Connection: Justin
|The Bottom Line on Iraq: It's the Bottom Line:
2/19/03 Arianna Huffington
|"To hell with worldwide protests, an unsupportive Security Council, a diplomatically dubious Hans Blix, an Osama giddy at the prospect of a united Arab world and a panicked populace grasping at the very slender reed of duct tape and Saran Wrap to protect itself from the inevitable terrorist blow-back, the business of America is still business."|
|Wrongfully Jailed in South Africa:
2/27/03 Rory Carroll and Steven Morris
|"The FBI refused to comment on the case yesterday. John Lewis, of the US attorney's office spokesman, told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: 'We had the wrong man. He deserves an apology and he certainly gets one from me. I do apologise and others, I'm sure, will as well.'"|
| Letter of Resignation:
2/27/03 John Brady Kiesling
|"When our friends are afraid of us rather than for us, it is time to worry. And now they are afraid. Who will tell them convincingly that the United States is as it was, a beacon of liberty, security, and justice for the planet?"|
3/5/03 Arrested for wearing a peace t-shirt: Damita
| The Logic of War:
3/13/03 Peter Freundlich
me see if I understand the logic of this right.
"We are going to ignore the UN to make clear to Saddam Hussein that the UN cannot be ignored.
"We are going to wage war to preserve the UN's ability to avert war..."
|When Democracy Failed: The Warnings
3/16/03 Thom Hartmann
Reason Why George McGovern
|"But the warnings of investigators were ignored at the highest levels, in part because the government was distracted; the man who claimed to be the nation's leader had not been elected by a majority vote and the majority of citizens claimed he had no right to the powers he coveted. He was a simpleton, some said, a cartoon character of a man who saw things in black-and-white terms and didn't have the intellect to understand the subtleties of running a nation in a complex and internationalist world. His coarse use of language - reflecting his political roots in a southernmost state - and his simplistic and often-inflammatory nationalistic rhetoric offended the aristocrats, foreign leaders, and the well-educated elite in the government and media..."|
|Iraq is a Trial Run:
3/21/03 Noam Chomsky on Peace
|"This should be seen as a trial run. Iraq is seen as an extremely easy and totally defenceless target. It is assumed, probably correctly, that the society will collapse, that the soldiers will go in and that the U.S. will be in control, and will establish the regime of its choice and military bases. They will then go on to the harder cases that will follow. The next case could be the Andean region, it could be Iran, it could be others."|
|Why we are in Iraq:
3/23/03 Joseph Cirincione
|"They thought they would get another try with the strategy plans next year, but the American people voted them out of power. Some guy from Arkansas became president, and they were furious. They spent their years in exile well. They learned, studied and organized, and now as a group they have entered the government and have key positions in the State Department and in the Defense Department, and now have a hammerlock on the national security policy apparatus of the US. For them, Iraq is just the beginning. As one of the official said to me 'we have a long 'to do' list.'"|
3/25/03 Dollar vs Euro: W. Clark
3/28/03 Thank You Great Leader, George W. Bush: Paulo Coelho
3/30/03 Bracing for Bush's War at Home: Chisun Lee
4/4/03 Some Worry U.S. May Bend Fact for Policy: Scott Shane
4/6/03 No Amount of PR Will Disguise the fact... Mary Riddell
A letter from Portland:
|"I Stand For Peace and Justice...
|"I stand for solidarity. I stand for and with all the poor
and the excluded. Despite massive disinformation millions oppose
unjust, illegal, immoral war, and I want to add my voice to
theirs. I stand with moral leaders all over the world, with
world labor, and with the huge majority of the populations
of countries throughout the world.
"I stand for justice. I stand against economic, political, and cultural institutions that promote a rat race mentality, huge economic and power inequalities, corporate domination even unto sweatshop and slave labor, racism, and gender and sexual hierarchies."
4/7/03 Where are the WMD? Robert Novak
4/7/03 Letter from: Michael
|A Picture of Killing...:
4/8/03 Suzanne Goldenberg
|"Death's embrace gave the bodies intimacies they never
knew in life. Strangers, bloodied and blackened, wrapped their arms around
others, hugging them close.
A man's hand rose disembodied from the bottom of the heap of corpses to rest on the belly of a man near the top. A blue stone in his ring glinted as an Iraqi orderly opened the door of the morgue..."
4/10/03 Beliefs of American Population: Amanda Chesworth
4/12/03 Why did you say we are invading Iraq? The war explained.
4/12/03 Letter [to W] from: Barbara Atwood
4/14/03 Corporate Reform Weekly, from:
|Stop corporate tax dodging
4/15/03 Citizen Works
|"...big corporations are using increasingly complicated schemes to avoid paying taxes, dedicating armies of lawyers and accountants to puncture every loophole in the tax code and hiring lobbyists to write new ones."|
|Behind Our Backs
4/15/03 Paul Krugman
|"For the overwhelming political lesson of the last year
is that war works - that is, it's an excellent cover for the Republican
Party's domestic political agenda. In fact, war works in two ways. The
public rallies around the flag, which means the President and his party;
and the public's attention is diverted from other issues.
"As long as the nation is at war, then, it will be hard to get the public to notice what the flagwavers are doing behind our backs."
|Why the Anti-War Movement Was Right:
4/16/03 Arianna Huffington
|The whole pretext for our unilateral charge into Iraq was
that the American people were in imminent danger from Saddam and his mighty
war machine. The threat was so clear and present that we couldn't even
give inspectors searching for weapons of mass destruction — hey, remember
those? — another 30 days, as France had wanted.
Well, it turns out that, far from being on the verge of destroying Western civilization, Saddam and his 21st century Gestapo couldn't even muster a half-hearted defense of their own capital. The hawks' cakewalk disproves their own dire warnings. They can't have it both ways. The invasion has proved wildly successful in one other regard: It has unified most of the world — especially the Arab world — against us.
4/17/03 US cannot kill, jail, or occupy
4/17/03 Danny Sleator
|"I'm alternately outraged and depressed by what's happening
in the world. We now have the most powerful, deceitful, arrogant,
and belligerent administration in US history. And almost everything
they're doing is wrong."
"But I think the real problem, and the reason for Bush's popularity, is that the American people basically don't have a clue about what's really happening. The mainstream media are not communicating it."
|Canada - U.S. Relations
4/19/03 Mel Hurtig
|"You ask why Canada doesn't support the United States...
"...why have you not supported Canada? Why have you turned your back on us? Why have you and your country proceeded in a reckless, arrogant manner which is 100% guaranteed to substantially increase terrorism and volatility around the world...
Why have you launched into this foolhardy aggression that will cause hundreds of millions of Muslims to hate and despise Westerners for generations into the future, with potentially cataclysmic results, for ourselves, for our children and for our grandchildren?"
4/27/03 George W Bush Resumè
few MAY be exaggerations
|And Now: 'Operation Iraqi Looting'
4/27/03 Frank Rich
|"'Stuff happens!' said Donald Rumsfeld, who likened the
looting to the aftermath of soccer games and joked to the press that the
scale of the crime was a trompe l'oeil effect foisted by a TV loop
showing 'over and over and over . . . the same picture of some person
walking out of some building with a vase.' As Jane Waldbaum, president
of the Archaeological Institute of America, summed up the defense secretary's
response to the tragedy, he 'basically shrugged and said, `Boys will be
"When the outrage over the story refused to go away after the looting subsided, a cover-up began."
|Somebody had blundered:
Theirs not to make reply,
Theirs not to reason why,
Theirs but to do and die.
Alfred, Lord Tennyson
|Did Our Leaders Lie to Us? Do we care?
5/5/03 Robert Steinback
|"Would it bother you if we were to discover
that George Bush lied about the case for going to war?" I asked.
He knew what I was referring to. His blunt answer left my jaw hanging.
"Everyone knows he lied about weapons of mass destruction being the point of the war."
5/8/03 Photocopy of George W Bush's military suspension document: Follow the links from this web page
5/27/03 Shout their names into the wind--Viet Nam Memorial: Suppressing the truth; manufacturing evidence...
5/29/03 Facts lose the war to fictions: Arianna Huffington
5/29/03 Democrats: Profiles in Spinelessness Arianna Huffington
6/4/03 The WMD Question: Molly Ivins
|What is fascism?
6/4/03 Lawrence Britt
|"Dr. Britt studied the fascist regimes of Hitler (Germany),
Mussolini (Italy), Franco (Spain), Suharto (Indonesia), and Pinochet (Chile).
He found the regimes all had 14 things in common, and he calls these the
identifying characteristics of fascism. "
Anti-intellectualism: ethnocentrism, egocentrism, punitive morality, hierarchical ranking, superficiality and multiple-parameter simplemindedness—coupled with opinion shaping by PAP, propaganda, Newspeak ("Newt Speak") riding on gullibility and wishful thinking.
6/5/03 The weather report by Kurt Vonnegut: Kurt Vonnegut
6/5/03 The Iraq War Was About Oil: George Wright
6/10/03 Dying for the Government: Howard Zinn
6/18/03 WMDs And The Psychology of Fanatacism: Arianna Huffington
6/25/03 The Road to Coverup Is the Road to Ruin: Robert Byrd
6/26/03 Daddy, why did we have to attack Iraq?: New Math, so simple
7/4/03 And Human Rights for All?: Arianna Huffington
7/12/03 The Bright Stuff: Daniel Dennett
|"Democracy is not a lie."
7/14/03 Bill Moyers
|"Their stated and open aim is to change how America
is governed - to strip from government all its functions except those that
reward their rich and privileged benefactors. They are quite candid
about it, even acknowledging their mean spirit in accomplishing it."
Anti-democratic vision: ethnocentrism, egocentrism, punitive morality, hierarchical ranking, superficiality and multiple-parameter simplemindedness—coupled with opinion shaping by PAP, propaganda, Newspeak ("Newt Speak") riding on gullibility and wishful thinking.
7/18/03 Fudge the numbers and push for ever more tax cuts: Paul Krugman
8/6/03 Ten appalling lies we were told about
Iraq: Christopher Scheer
8/9/03 Belva Ann Prycel
|"...the OSP and the president's advisors
manipulated and cherry-picked the intelligence information to build a case
"...by the time the invasion began, fully 72 percent of the American public believed that Saddam Hussein was responsible for 9/11, without a shred of credible evidence to support such a claim."
"What is becoming increasingly clear is that if the president and his closest advisors knowingly lied in making the case for a preemptive war based on Iraq constituting an imminent threat to the security of the United States, this is assuredly an impeachable offense of the highest order of magnitude, manifestly greater than the constitutional abuses of Dick Nixon or the sexual lying of Bill Clinton."
9/2/03 Bush Was All Too Willing to Use Emigres' Lies Robert Scheer
10/13/03 The Sins of September 11 William Rivers Pitt
10/13/03 Turkeys on the Moon Michael Moore
"Whenever I feel blue, I start breathing again.": Think
Biased personal opinion vs logical imperative
Two-tone paint job?
Is it a good map?
Up or down?
Scalar or tensor?
Who gets injured?
|Different people see different
things in different ways. Some people see no difference between orange
and green, but most can. Some people see nothing wrong with a street
map that shows many non-existent streets, and it's more people than we
might think. Some people can't tell the direction of the acceleration
of a ball as it bounces about in a game—in fact, most can't. Most
people can imagine ranking people by "value"—and do all the time—but only
a very few see that ranking as being in a space of many, many dimensions.
Some people see who gets injured in a war...
These differences exist because different people develop a variety of mental mechanisms for understanding complexities and subtleties Colorblindness, dyslexia, and map difficulties are abilities a bit inferior to the norm in some specific way. Math skills, critical logic insights, synesthesia, and spatial visualization sometimes get honed sharply enough to give a person uncommonly powerful insights; the insights that lead to modern science, but also to artistic excellence, diplomatic skills that might pacify a fiercly belligerent world, perhaps even healing skills for a societal bedlam bordering on mutually reciprocal self-destruction.
The events of the first part of the year 2003 polarized populations. Opinions were seen as ranked, not so much as "better" or "worse," but more as "good" or "evil." And "good" got too often defined as "US." "Evil" got defined as "THEM." Nevertheless, some opinions really were superior in the sense that they were driven by better insight into subtlety and complexity.
Can we identify the "better" insights" in...
Letters from Southern California