Monday, November 26, 2007

Good riddance, Tucker Carlson

Think Progress reports MSNBC may be considering canceling Tucker Carlson's show.

They suggest you write to MSNBC and tell them what you think about Tucker. And, they link to this website constructed by a couple of his supporters to rally the troops with statements like this:

This decision by MSNBC will silence a conservative voice, part of a move by MSNBC to swing left and become "FOX for the Liberals," dropping any pretense of objectivity or balance.

I could tell what this guy was going to be about the first time I saw him listed in the TV guide for his program on PBS. Since then, I've watched many hours of his dreary droning and read miles of transcript excerpts on blogs. He appeared in the name of "balance" after the Bush administration decided to cast out Bill Moyers for telling the truth and listing some of their infinite crimes. It just goes to show how easy it is to get plum media jobs when you're related to the right people.

His downfall just goes to show what I've been telling you: authoritarianism is not a majority position—never was, still isn't and never will be. America's founders came here to escape authoritarianism and put it to rest forever. In the 21st century, people who are still trying to beat life into the dead horse of authoritarianism demonstrate they know nothing of history, and altogether can't manage a collective IQ of 14, besides not understanding anything about the American creed. Giving these people and their authoritarian ranting a public forum in the name of "balance" assumes authoritarianism is a legitimate platform—which it is not. It's as unAmerican as it is unChristian and undemocratic. News stories and television programs devoted to authoritarianism are propaganda and only propaganda, and the political authoritarianism of the last 40 years is of a caliber that even its proponents cannot permanently abide. On top of all this, Tucker is awful, truly terrible, and anyone who hired him supposing he is intelligent and engaging has urgent reason to question his own judgment.

Tucker's vanishing audience and talk of dropping his program are proper examples of all of it. He and all the so-called "conservative" pundits aren't the result of a lack of vigilence in protecting democracy and our free society as much as they are the result of individuals who wrongly chose to embrace principles that were dead on arrival.

Monday, November 19, 2007

As good as on, the war with Iran

A contingent of top American military leaders oppose war with Iran. Last weekend the obsequious crew of The McLaughlin Report stated overwhelming opposition from all quarters insures this new war simply can't happen.

Ayatollah Emami-Kashani said in a sermon November 9 that nuclear weapons are forbidden by Islamic law, and that Iran doesn't want them. Rep. Neil Abercrombie has introduced a bill clarifying that the authorization to use military force does not allow Bush to attack Iran, and that he needs new Congressional approval. All this sounds pretty good, doesn't it?

Yes, it all sounds good, and it means exactly nothing. Saudi Social Affairs Minister Abdel Mohsen Hakas and Rihab Massoud, Prince Bandar ben Sultan's right hand, are resigned to the certainty of an American strike on Iran before Bush leaves office.

Freedom's Watch has been assembling focus groups this month to craft sales pitches, arguments, slogans or language designed to promote support for a war with Iran. This story also says the group expects to raise $200 million in funds for an advertising campaign by this time next year.

If it's legal for people to do this, is it legal for other people to use them for target practice?

Sunday, November 18, 2007

America has a pleasure problem.

There are those who may feel I've been a little too hard on the Bush and Cheney. But, I promise that any flaming fudge bags they may have received definitely did not come from me.

How can I say this? My commentary about the presidency of George W. Bush is mild compared to what awaits if Hillary Clinton is elected president. I was planning to change my party affiliation to independent after the primaries anyway, but I ramble...

Eric Blumrich says it better:

Let me make it clear: Anyone would make a better president than Bush. I'll even go so far as to say that (with the exception of Giuliani and Thompson) any of the republicans running for the highest office will make a better president than Bush. However- that's not really saying much, as a moldy cup of ramen noodles would make a better commander-in-chief than Bush has been.

Considering that the republican party is so much out of public favor that it is likely to show up on "The Surreal Life" as Bronson Pinchot's roomie, it's all but certain that the democrats will capture the white house. Further, with resignations and scandals heralding an all-out collapse of the republican congressional delegation, the democrats have a fair chance to gain a fillibuster-proof majority in both houses of congress.

The only thing that could stop this from happening, is if Hillary Clinton gets the democratic nomination.

Good old Eric—after all these years, we still have no points of disagreement.

It's a joke story. Right?

Barry Bonds was indicted for perjury and obstruction of justice Thursday and could go to prison instead of the Hall of Fame for telling a federal grand jury he did not knowingly use performance-enhancing drugs.

It's not a joke story. In fact, to hear the TV network guys tell it Thursday and Friday, it's the biggest story of all time: a grown man playing a kid's game with a stunning record of hitting home runs is looking at up to 30 years in jail for lying under oath about taking steroids. Have we all just suffered profound brain death? Am I the only one who sees the infinite inanity of this incredible and absurd nonsense?

Has public discourse devolved to a point that it's a contest from one story to the next of how many invalid, inconsequential premises we can stack? This story doesn't belong in a court, and it doesn't belong as a matter of primary concern for Washington:

In Washington, White House spokesman Tony Fratto said: "The president is very disappointed to hear this. As this case is now in the criminal justice system, we will refrain from any further specific comments about it. But clearly this is a sad day for baseball."

The sad part is that there are people who are so unbelievably stupid that this is the most important business, the biggest issue, in their sad, little lives—and I'd cry my eyes out about it except that I'm laughing so hard when I think about how one would need a lifetime to nurture, cultivate and master the uneducated, dimwitted ignorance needed to think this is a matter requiring a second's thought or a single spoken word. Truly the drug war and antidrug message has been so oversold, it goes beyond extremism to life-and-death fanatacism.

How, then, should Bonds be penalized? If only we could torture him up to the point of death while subjecting him to hard manual labor and starvation, then nurse him back to health, while scourging him with a cat-o-nine tails, then execute him at day's end and resurrect him overnight to repeat the punishment and drive home the tragic horror of his sinful crime with each new day. But somehow, it's just not enough. Shouldn't anyone who can say the words "Bonds," "drug" or "steroid" be summarily executed by torture chamber? Well, why the fuck not...

...or perhaps we could nuke our own country over and over and over to purge the impurity from this virginal land, satiating the psychopathic authoritarians who so wholeheartedly believe this humliating and unnecessary episode has some point, and sets a worthy precedent. It makes me completely ashamed to be a member of the human race.

• THEN, I got THIS deplorable piece of shit in e-mail entitled "THE JOB - URINE TEST" with the comment someone made, "This makes so much sense!!!!"

(I sure would like to know who wrote this one! They deserve a HUGE pat on the back!)


Like a lot of folks in this state, I have a job. I work, they pay me. I pay my taxes and the government distributes my taxes as it sees fit. In order to get that paycheck, I am required to pass a random urine test with which I have no problem. What I do have a problem with is the distribution of my taxes to people who don't have to pass a urine test.

Shouldn't one have to pass a urine test to get a welfare check because I have to pass one to earn it for them? Please understand, I have no problem with helping people get back on their feet. I do, on the other hand, have a problem with helping someone sitting on their ASS, doing drugs, while I work. . . .

Can you imagine how much money the state would save if people had to pass a urine test to get a public assistance check? Pass this along if you agree or simply delete if you don't. Hope you all will pass it along, though... Something has to change in this country--and soon!

How authoritarian and servile. Is this supposed to be funny? No, the uneducated author is serious, and points out what is wrong with the drug war. By calling it a "war," the law embedded the idea that civil liberties can be thrown out of the window, that there would be shooting, and the related killing, even of innocent bystanders, was legitimate and part of the cost of fighting The Last Ultimate Evil.© What's wrong with this logic is the same thing that's wrong with our system of criminal justice. People on juries want to inflict injustice on others because they themselves have suffered injustice. Issues, facts and evidence just don't matter. A "crime" was committed. Someone was arrested. Whether or not the defendant was the perpetrator is irrelevant. The matter is disposed of, and the juror is exonerated of blame, if the maximum penalty is assessed. The juror never considers how he would feel if he were a falsley accused defendant. He doesn't consider that an innocent person suffers and a guilty person escapes judgment, nor care. And, whether or not the issue is a proper one for adjudication is certainly never a consideration.

All that matters is the opportunity to have the pleasure of arbitrarily hurting someone with the sanction of the law finally presented itself. Receiving pleasure from inflicting pain on another person is one of the hallmarks of psychopathy.

I have a confession. I've been trying to figure out a way to transition into this topic for almost three months, and this is a pretty good place for it. I read a great article about the mechanism of violence (in individuals) in the early 1970s. In late August, I went searching for it online, not expecting to find it. There is good news and bad news.

The good news is, unbelievably, I found the article: New Clues To The Causes of Violence by Gene Bylinsky, originally published in Fortune January, 1973. There was discussion in those days that if the medical community could understand people's tendency toward violence, perhaps it could be controlled, and crime and war would become things of the past.

The bad news is, I became so disillusioned and jaded reading it again after all these years, but especially by my search for it, I haven't had much urge to research and write since then. I made what, two posts here in the month of September? All this time I've thought about how silly it is to be blocked by such things, although the point is arguable. I felt sad and discouraged, because I was in my first year of college when it was published, and I believed that by this time we would learn how to stifle the impulse in some people to resort to violence, whether irrational, as part of the act of committing a crime (as in aggravated robbery) or as a means of settling a dispute (as in unnecesarily joining in or starting a war).

The article discusses different approaches to the study of the causes of violent behavior, like family history, behavioral, cultural and socioeconomic. Most of the article deals with the interesting idea violent behavior results from changes in brain enzymes and extraordinary architecture of certain brain structures. There is the implicit hint, then, that violence is the product of an internal mechanism some people can't control, a suggestion with which I agreed and still do, and that this mechanism could be brought under control—and that the world could suffer fewer violent crimes and maybe, eventually, no more war.

I felt discouraged by my search for this article because 34 years later, not only has the optimistic promise of less violence in the world not been realized, but when one goes looking for problem-solving information about violence, it is almost wholly absent. Instead, you find endless support groups and nonprofits begging for a handout. Even the groups' specialties give reason to be disheartened: help for victims of crime, families of murder victims, abused spouses, and even parents who have been abused by their children, if you can believe that, but nowhere did I find help for children who are abuse victims. There must be some. That is what I was looking for specifically, hoping it would provide some insight, and I couldn't find one. Similarly, I didn't go past my initial, cursory search for articles dealing with the subject of violence, its causes and treatment or even casual advice. Again, they must exist.

However, this was a hot topic 34 years ago. If the study had attracted the interest of enough of the right people, the most basic search criteria should have yielded more material than one could read in a lifetime. But, it just isn't there.

Understand how exciting this subject is:

Other novel approaches may emerge from studies that are under way. For example, development of a vastly improved brain-wave recording machine, now in progress at Tulane, would enable doctors to detect signals of trouble from deep in the brain without surgically implanting recording electrodes there. It may also become possible to treat damaged deep-nerve networks ultrasonically, thereby avoiding surgery.

It is clear that much more specific therapies than those in use today are needed for people who have brain damage. Vernon H. Mark and Frank R. Ervin observe in their recent book, Violence and the Brain: "Hoping to rehabilitate such a violent individual through psychotherapy or education, or to improve his character by sending him to jail or by giving him love and understanding–all these methods are irrelevant and will not work. It is the malfunction itself that must be dealt with, and only if this fact is recognized is there any chance of changing his behavior."

Remember, it's at this point in time the conservative agenda decreed punishment as the cure for all ailments, the drug war was born, domestic oil was declared depleted and that we would get it from OPEC, and we must move from a manufacturing to a service economy. Today, you see how all that hasn't worked out.

The time it takes to study this article is time well spent. Here is a sample:

Until a few years ago, scientists knew comparatively little about the intricate inner mechanisms of the brain that initiate and control violence. These mechanisms lie deep in an inaccessible area called the limbic system, wrapped around the brain stem, as shown in the drawing on page 136. In the limbic system, the hypothalamus stands out as the single most important control center. Regulating many of man's primitive drives, its networks of nerve cells, or neurons, direct not only aggressive and violent behavior but also the states of sleep and wakefulness, as well as sexual and feeding behavior. The front part of the hypothalamus contains networks of nerve cells that promote calmness and tranquillity. The back part regulates aggression and rage.

Nearby lies the almond-shaped amygdala, which restrains the impulses from the hypothalamus. Another close-by structure, the septum, seems to inhibit messages from both the hypothalamus and the amygdala. The cerebellum, the large structure at the back of the brain, filters sensory impulses. The hippocampus, a short-term memory bank in front of the cerebellum, is importantly involved in ways that brain researchers do not yet adequately understand.

All these structures are functionally as well as anatomically interrelated. Electrical signals, arising in response to sensory or internal cues (e.g., sight or thought), speed along nerve pathways to activate or block the function of other nerve cells. Chemicals such as noradrenaline and dopamine, which are normally present in the brain and are known as neurotransmitters, apparently ferry these electrical signals across the tiny gaps between nerve cells, called synapses, to such control centers as the hypothalamus. At the same time, the neurons are constantly bathed in waves of background electrical activity. In still unknown ways, this background "music" apparently conveys information, too. [...]

Fortunately for the advance of knowledge about human aggression, the limbic systems of animals have recently been found to bear an amazing functional resemblance to that of man. So laboratory experiments with animals (notably monkeys, cats, and mice) underpin the still limited investigations of aggression systems in the human brain.

Using fine electrodes inserted into animal brains, researchers have induced a fascinating range of aggressive behavior. Cats that normally do not attack rats, for instance, will stalk and kill a rat when stimulated in a certain area of the hypothalamus. On the other hand, a cat stimulated in anothei nearby region of the hypothalamus may ignore an available rat and attack the experimenter instead. Destruction of the nucleus of the amygdala will turn a friendly cat into a raging beast that claws and bites without provocation, because the signals from the hypothalamus are no longer dampened by the amygdala. [...]

Further evidence of the cerebellum's role in violence comes from the work of A. J. Berman, a neurosurgeon at Mount Sinai Medical School and the Jewish Hospital in Brooklyn. He has successfully modified autistic and aggressive behavior in isolation-reared monkeys by removing presumably abnormal sections of cerebellum that deal with the reception of sensory signals. In one experiment, Berman performed similar surgery on two monkeys called Ding and Dong, who had fought viciously and continuously. The operation turned Ding into a submissive animal, while Dong remained as aggressive as ever. Berman attributes the difference to the location of the surgery. Some tissue was removed from the midline section of Ding's cerebellum while the excision on Dong was microscopically closer to the side of that brain structure.

Berman suggests that his finding may one day be relevant to treating humans. "Walk into the back wards of any mental institution," he says, "and you'll find children whose behavior is identical with that of Harlow's monkeys."

All these and many other experiments have led a number of scientists to conclude that people who behave overaggressively may have an abnormality in the mechanism by which they perceive pleasure. In animals reared in isolation, as in pathologically violent people, the impulses resulting from the stimulation of movement and skin sensations may not be reaching their normal destinations in the brain. The feeling of pleasure may thus be experienced only partially or not at all.

This may explain, among other things, why both institutionalized children and monkeys brought up in isolation generally rock back and forth for hours on end and respond violently if touched. Adults with damaged pleasure systems similarly may be trying to derive pleasure from the rough physical contact involved in violent acts; they may, in effect, be seeking an additional stimulus. Researchers have also found that electrical stimulation of pleasure centers in the brain eliminates feelings of rage, because the brain seems to contain rival nerve systems that suppress opposing emotions chemically and electrically.

This theme of individuals with exceptional or damaged brains receiving pleasure from violence or inflicting pain on others, or in other ways people without brain damage or extraordinary brain architecture experience pleasure recurs in the many articles I've read. You may find some of the articles linked here of interest.

Most of them, however, simply describe aberrant behavior as a means of reaching a diagnosis. Think about the possibilities. If Bush and Cheney had electrodes implanted in their brains, when they start talking about starting a new war, we could just give them a little juice (zzzzzt!) and presto, no more war talk.

Bonds probably could have made it to the Baseball Hall of Fame without steroids, but he decided differently. Could he be an addictive personality? If so, the solution would be to derail the mechanism of that behavior. Much of the trouble he's in has happened because he wanted to hide prohibited or possibly illegal drug use. The assumption social condemnation and criminal indictment combined with long jail sentences are necessary things may be personally satisfying to people with abnormal brains who derive pleasure from others' suffering, but as a means of deterring the behavior in defendants or others they have proven through time to be not only totally ineffective, but very expensive to society.

Wouldn't something cheaper, faster and effective be better? Of course. But so long as the punishment remedy is so oversold as to be the only thing anyone can imagine, the cycle of crime and punishment remains unbroken—and we fight wars and build prisons forever, in spite of thousands of years of history showing wars and prisons don't do anything but cost lives and money.

When someone I know lands in jail or dies of substance misuse, I grieve over the tragedy of it, and the tragedy of so many people having so little or such poor education that we've known a long time how to change it, but lack the collective knowledge and will to do it. Because of this very thing, the United States will be over its head in debt for the rest of my life, and subject to economic collapse. Changing federal leaders won't help when the change is to just more of the same.

Update: I got a trackback on this item from this website, which didn't make much sense—but hey, I thought, "man, I have the next Nobel prize in literature in the bag." So, I went to the site and put a "thanks for the shout" message in their moderated comments. Then I found that the site was using some software called Blogdigger to find material. I guess this program also posts what it finds without operator intervention, because most of their articles have little or nothing to do with debt. That program must be a wonderful thing to see in action, despite the fact it doesn't work. Maybe it will pick this article up again, since I put in the link back to their site. So, the moderator must have seen my comment and realized the material wasn't appropriate, and he pulled the link and the trackback on this site. I wasn't aware such things happen! Oh well. Bylinksy's article has meant a great deal to me as time has gone by, Nobel notwithstanding.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Some of it's hot, some of it's not.

I told Rimone there have been some great news stories in the past few days.

As always, you have to look past Big Name News© because who cares who Pat Robertson or Sam Brownback endorse for president? I don't—except when Keith Olbermann comments:

Pat Robertson, founder of the Christian Coalition -- a man who blamed the 9/11 attacks on America and its tolerance of abortion -- apparently now places more trust in preventing future terrorist attacks in Rudolph Giuliani...than he does in the faith he has spent half a century selling as if it were toothpaste.

Some news is just not so hot. But other stories really excite me:

Jason Leopold spells out Cheney's plans to more easily license dozens of new nuclear plants with practically no public scrutiny. This one's a gigantic blockbuster.

Rolling Stone's Tim Dickinson has this very hot story about the Bush administration's politicization of inspectors general. A sample:

No inspector general has been more criticized for his lack of independent oversight than Robert "Moose" Cobb, who served as associate White House counsel under Alberto Gonzales before being appointed inspector general of NASA in 2002. According to a report by the President's Council on Integrity and Efficiency, an office run by fellow IGs to police the work of their peers, Cobb helped cover up the theft of nearly $2 billion in rocket-engine data from NASA's servers. The council also found that Cobb had tipped off Sean O'Keefe, the head of NASA, to impending FBI search warrants, and sought O'Keefe's input on how he should structure his "independent" audits.

Cobb wasn't nearly so considerate of those under him: According to the council, he berated subordinates as "knuckle-draggers" and "fucksticks," causing more than half of his staff to quit. As his own hand-picked assistant testified before Congress, "Mr. Cobb's arrogance, his abusive, bullying style, absence of managerial experience, limited understanding of investigative processes, egotism and misplaced sense of self-importance make it impossible for him to successfully manage and lead an organization."

Lots of thrills and chills in that one, and how I love it!

Tom Engelhardt deserves recognition as a great reporter who digs up incredible facts which reveal that no matter what Washington says about troop levels, they plan to keep a vast number of troops in the Middle East until the end of time—and expand our offshore torture prisons:

By the way, don't overlook Guantanamo itself. That crown jewel of our offshore prisons is now a hive of construction activity. Don't even worry about the $10-$12 million that's already being spent to create a semi-permanent "tent city" on an unused runway there in which the U.S. military plans to hold war-crimes trials for some of the prison's detainees; focus instead on the $16.5 million camp that's going to be built elsewhere on the base to house up to "10,000 Caribbean migrants" - just in case, assumedly, something happens in post-Castro Cuba. And that may only be a detention appetizer. The main course could be a $110 million-dollar contract to build a second "compound" that would hold 35,000 more of those "migrants."

Tom's article is a horrifying revelation about America's policy decisions to make war and create detainees long into the future, itemized as building opportunities for young contractors.

No wonder the dollar is collapsing. You can't funnel off trillions of dollars for all this useless, nonproductive junk and expect anything but catastrophe. But, that would be a subject for many libraries jam-packed with fat volumes.

Robert Scheer has one of the many great articles about trouble in Pakistan, proving Wrongway Dubya and Deadeye Cheney's collective penchant for running us down dead ends, at unbelievable expense. The Reagan-Bush White House did everything to make Pakistan's nuclear weapons program happen, and to spread that technology to other nations, some of which are the most hostile to the United States on earth.

One man tried to stop it:

All this could have been avoided, says Richard M. Barlow, the former CIA and Defense Department expert whose warnings on the acquiescence of Reagan and Bush administration officials in Pakistan's nuclear program were quashed by the Pentagon and avoided by Congress.

For his candor, and despite the backing of some top intelligence officials, Barlow was stripped of his Top Secret/Codeword clearances and hounded out of the Pentagon.

Now he lives in a motor home, divorced, broke and unemployed. He spends half the year in a campground in Montana, the other half in California, living off the quickly diminishing proceeds of the sale of his house.

"I have serious financial problems," Barlow, now 52, told me by phone last week. "I basically live like a vagrant."

The only possible conclusion is that the Bush family has conspired for decades to deliver nuclear weapons to our country's most hateful and radical enemies. They had a proper motive: they did it to get money. The "God told me to do it" line doesn't work anymore.

Friday, November 2, 2007

Torture? What's THAT?

I don't comment on everything in the news, and the only reason I comment on the confirmation of former federal judge Michael Mukasey as attorney general is that the conversation with the Judiciary Committee regarding whether or not waterboarding amounts to torture has gone much too far.

Sens. Schumer and Feinstein's vote assure his confirmation:

In announcing her support for Mukasey, Feinstein, D-Calif., said "first and foremost, Michael Mukasey is not Alberto Gonzales," referring to the former attorney general who resigned in September after months of questions about his honesty.

Really? How is he not the very same thing as Gonzales? Mukasey has stated he doesn't really know what waterboarding is, so he doesn't know if it's illegal. It's been done for many centuries. It's done one way only. International law prohibits it. Mukasey hasn't said he doesn't know that; yet, panelists laud his honesty:

Schumer's announcement followed a private meeting Friday with Mukasey to discuss waterboarding.

"I deeply oppose it," Schumer said of waterboarding. "Unfortunately, this nominee, indeed any proposed by President Bush, will not agree with this. I am, however, confident that this nominee would enforce a law that bans waterboarding."

Schumer, who was Mukasey's chief Democratic sponsor, said the retired judge told him that if Congress passes a law banning waterboarding "the president would have absolutely no legal authority to ignore such a law." Schumer said Mukasey said he would enforce any congressional ban the [sic] controversial interrogation method.

What kind of logic is this? Utterly ridiculous is what kind, and the discussion has slogged along for three weeks. Does Mukasey mean to suggest it's possible the Bush administration has invented some form of nontorturous waterboarding? No, he just wants to protect them from litigation:

Mukasey has called waterboarding personally "repugnant," and in a letter to senators this week said he did not know enough about how it has been used to define it as torture. He also said he thought it would be irresponsible to discuss it since doing so could make interrogators and other government officials vulnerable to lawsuits.

Incredible! Not only is the man a feeb, he's a lying feeb—and truly cut from the same cloth as Alberto Gonzales. Yes, it'd be a shame if someone filed a lawsuit, as if there is a judge in this country today who wouldn't throw the case out in response to the government's assertion of national security. I'm not aware of criminal statutes prohibiting forms of torture, but I know they're enumerated by international law under which our government is subject. Would any reasonable person have a problem identifying waterboarding as torture? NO!

Consider the analogy of interrogating people while stretching them on the rack. The rack works one way only: a person is immobilized on a plank, his arms tethered to a locking, ratcheted wench which, when taken to an extreme, can pull the arm joints out of the shoulder sockets. I'm fairly certain there isn't state or federal legislation prohibiting this technique; but, can a reasonable person say it isn't painful, cruel or unusual? A man in his sixties who has served as a federal judge who says he's never heard of such things is simply not telling the truth—and lying in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee should bounce him out of contention.

Bush's arguments for Mukasey's confirmation are characteristically underwhelming:

On Thursday, Bush had warned that the Justice Department would go without a leader in a time of war if Democrats thwarted Mukasey.

Bush also said that if the Judiciary Committee were to block Mukasey because of his noncommittal stance on the legality of waterboarding, it would set a new standard for confirmation that could not be met by any responsible nominee for attorney general.

DoJ hasn't had a leader since Bush entered the White House, and his assertion there isn't a single member of the bar in the whole country who is familiar with torture, knows it's illegal and could manage DoJ is pure and utter nonsense. So Mukasey will be confirmed and waterboarding will continue. You can expect to learn later interrogators added racks and probably iron maidens as well. Mukasey won't know what those are, either, because he doesn't want anyone to get a summons. What sniveling cowardice.

How a war supporter thinks

We had our "Stop the Iran War" chat room open again this week. Stormy's husband is working in another state, and she went with him. She spent her days in a small travel trailer in an RV park, watching people come and go and feeling claustrophobic. So, she's wanted to have a chat room where we could have a conversation because it's easier than using an instant message client.

I picked the topic about the Iran war because I was interested in seeing how people would support their positions for or against, and also because while she had no particular opinion at first, her husband, who works in the oil industry, is behind Bush all the way, she told me.

After watching the vitriolic hate coming from the war promoters, she's been won by the anti-war movement.

I've thrown this one guy Carlo out of the chat room at least a couple dozen times because he and his friends do nothing but call us names. It's really quite revealing:

› Carlo_Chambers has joined the conversation.
Carlo_Chambers : hey idiot, I dare you to come to my room and prove you're not a fucking pussy who's afraid of debate
› Carlo_Chambers has left the conversation.
› Carlo_Chambers has joined the conversation.
Carlo_Chambers : come to my room & debate me you fucking pussy
› Carlo_Chambers has left the conversation.

According to this individual, who I know is an adult because he's online all day and night, if you don't believe Bush and Rush that islamofascism is real and are against attacking Iran, you're a pussy coward, faggot, traitor and a stupid idiot. This clarifies the mind of war supporters in all its detail.

To the pro-war crowd, the more people who die, the more it costs, the more countries we invade, the bigger the weapons we use, the better. Period. One hundred thousand dead Americans is only a third as good as 300,000. A trillion dollars spent is only a third as good as $3,000,000,000,000.00. Conventional bombs are only as fractionally good as their larger, nuclear counterparts. Invading two countries is only a third as good as invading six.

The death, the debt, the consequences and the operative issues don't matter one bit. The only thing that matters is escalation and the show of force. Anyone who disagrees with this elegant simplicity gets called a stream of vile names, hatefully. This is the mindset of the Bush administration, and this is what Congress has decided to fund, again and again and again. The government and the country can have no other business because all resources have to be diverted to funding the war, and placating the simplest people who ever lived.

In the back of my imagination, that place that never finds its way to spoken or written language, I suspected this was true. Running the chat room demonstrated it's completely true. It would be laughable if it weren't so sad and troubling. Carlo would be happy to die in a nuclear retaliation for our adventurism, so long as it meant escalation and more show of force, even though he hasn't thought it through. I'm sure a large number of people agree. However, they are no more than one-fourth or one-third of the population, a minority.

Majority leaders have expressed their intention to postpone Bush's war funding request until after the first of the year in part because he plans to use some of the funding to start a new war with Iran. Whether or not they will decide to hand him more money is anyone's guess. We have this time to attempt to talk them out of it, if for some reason they've finally decided to listen.