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On Placing a Losing Bet

Why I Won't Vote for Kerry

It saddens me when I read that people I hold in high regard (eg, some of my favorite bloggers) have decided to vote for a lighter shade of black just to beat the pure inky blackness of Murka's tacit fuhrer. To me, that cheapens the essence of democracy. It reduces democracy to a dry, empty tactical move within a rigged game, rather than serve as the vibrant expression of an enlivened electorate to steer the direction of their society. So forgive me if I refuse to join in by playing my assigned role of pulling the lever to choose between A and A-prime as I vomit in the bucket next to the booth.

Of course, I can easily be accused of a fatalistic idealism in refusing to play along. But my conscience forbids me to give any credence to a system that compels me to hold my nose as I sell my soul to vote for something bad to prevent something worse.

When the East Timorese held their vote to determine if they were to secede from Indonesia they were warned in very clear terms that they would pay dearly if they voted for secession. But over 90% believed that their vote mattered, and they voted their conscience and their hope and their courage and gave an unmistakably clear message that they refused to kowtow to external pressure no matter what the cost — they were determined to lead their own lives, and they told Indonesia to go fuck itself. Indonesia didn't take this very well, and made good on their threat (with the blessings of Murka, of course) as they massacred people for democratically voting their conscience.

You know, it doesn't sadden me. It sickens me. I know that people desperately want to remove the scourge that is BushCo from their lives, and in their fear they will do whatever it takes to get rid of them. I do understand that. But it reeks of cowardice and co-optation. In their fear the populace sells their soul election after election, their only reward being leaders of increasingly questionable character who hurry the country further down the toilet — the only difference being the speed with which they do it. How many such elections does it take to convince people that the line "we need to vote for the lesser of two evils this time" is a smokescreen that works on them every single election? The need to protect abortion, the courts, the environment, whatever...(Hey, I've got news for you — BushCo already controls both houses of the Legislature, the Executive Branch, and the Courts. They also control many state governments, the military, and enforcement agencies. This "lesser of two evils" strategy ain't working too well, is it?) Every time this snakeoil is bought it's like an addiction where they're forced to buy it more and more until they come to believe there's no other choice. No wonder elections in Murka are so debased. Perhaps it's time to be reminded of this quote from Einstein: "The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results." By this definition I would say that American voters — especially well-meaning liberals — are insane.

I refuse to play this game. If democracy means anything at all it means being able to vote your conscience, damn the consequences. (Just ask the East Timorese.) There is no fucking way I'm going to vote for either BushCo or Kerry, and I don't care if Kerry is better than Bush by a yard, or a mile, or a light year: infinity minus any real number is still infinity. BushCo and Kerry both represent evils — and want to represent evils — and I will not assent to giving either of them my tacit seal of approval as signified by my vote. My conscience forbids it. I don't want BushCo — Zeus knows how much I don't want BushCo. But I don't want Kerry either, and I will never vote for Kerry. I refuse to vote for the lesser of two evils. Just as the expression implies, a vote for the lesser of two evils is still a vote for evil, and I will not do it.

I vote for what I want, for what I wish for, for my hopes and dreams and desires for a better future. A vote against Bush is a vote based on fear. A vote for the candidate you truly want is a vote based on hope and the future.

When was the last time someone who's going to vote for Anybody But Bush [ABB] didn't hold their nose and feel like they were selling their soul when they put their little x inside the box? When was the last time anybody was happy and proud to vote for somebody they felt truly represented their best interests and those of their society? Was there any election ever in which you felt that way?

Well, there is for me. Almost every election. I only vote for people I believe represent me and what I believe is in the best interest for my society. To do otherwise would be to betray myself and my society.

People can rationalize voting for an evil anyway they choose. Yet voting for an evil to prevent a worse evil is a tremendously cynical, perverted, and sick exercise in democracy. When a democracy falls into such a rut then it is debased beyond repair and time for a new system. I, for one, refuse to play along with the charade.

I know there are many people who will accuse me of helping put BushCo back in office. To that I say two things. One is, BushCo ain't leaving because there's not going to be an election this year, so the accusation is moot.

But let's assume the highly improbable occurs and there is an election. I know for a certainty that when I put my x in the box next to Nader's name I am not putting it in the box for BushCo. Period. That's how I know I did not contribute my vote to BushCo.

I'm not an ABBer, and I resent that ABBer's assume that my vote should just naturally go to whatever candidate they tell me I should vote for if I want to dump BushCo. What fucking gall, what fucking presumption. Getting rid of BushCo is vitally important to me too, and my vote for Nader is an attempt to do just that. And my vote is not a protest vote. I'm voting for the one candidate I believe truly represents my best interests and those of my society. ABBer's have never had any right to my vote, and scolding me because I choose to vote my conscience is a curious strategy in a democracy to try to win me over. It's the liberal equivalent of "You're either with us or you're with the terrorists" — just replace "the terrorists" with "BushCo."

If I'm idealistic and naive, then you're a hypocrite. Which is fine by me, but be honest about it and accept the fact that by going along with the farce and playing in a rigged game don't be surprised if you lose every time. Since I want to play too, but since I know I'm going to lose anyways, I place my chip where I want.

I have a little thought experiment for you. Consider an election between Hitler, Mussolini, and Martin Luther King [MLK]. Mussolini is clearly the lesser of two evils, and MLK doesn't stand a chance. Hitler is poised to win unless Mussolini can convince enough of MLK's supporters to vote for him.

I will still vote for MLK, since he is the one I truly wish to win. The other candidates represent things I cannot ever willingly assent to with my one vote. Plus, I'll be able to look at myself in the mirror the next day. A vote for Mussolini is an acknowledgement that I am willing to have him as my leader for the sake of not having Hitler, which is something I can never do, since I don't want either of them — I want MLK. If everyone voted this way, then MLK would have a serious chance of winning. (Of course, this assumes an educated and informed electorate.)

When I propose this thought experiment everyone says "Well, of course I would vote for MLK!" Then they go on to tell me that this election is different, that Brand-Y Evil is really really evil and must be stopped, and Brand-X Evil isn't so evil as Brand-Y Evil, that certainly it must be obvious that Brand-X Evil is closer to MLK than he is to Brand-Y Evil (even though Brand-X Evil is referred to as Brand-Y Evil "Lite"), etc. But it's all a self-deluding lie, and this election is crystal clear proof of it. In the past I would have said that this thought experiment was hyperbolic to prove a point. Now I'm not so sure. In some ways this election is a contest between Hitler, Mussolini, and MLK. And if you're going to vote for Mussolini to stop Hitler then just admit it — don't pretend you're something you're not.

Why I Will Vote for Nader

I voted for Nader in 1996, again in 2000, and will definitely vote for him again in 2004. Ralph Nader has been one of my personal heroes since I was a teenager. His life is one of selfless devotion to increasing the common good. Though he's mortal like anyone else, he is a man of such integrity that the spin meisters have to dig very deep or invent things against his character, such as, in the last election, the pathetic attempts to smear him with innuendoes about his sexuality.

Is he perfect? Is he a saint? Of course not. He's human, he's made mistakes, he's a bundle of contradictions like the rest of humanity. But painting his malfeasances in the same light as Kerry's or Bush's is obscene. You can accuse as robbers both a CEO who embezzled his employees of their pensions and a person who steals candy from a supermarket. Are they both criminals? Yes. But not being Manichean by temperament I weight degrees of criminality.

Does he have integrity? Does he really care about civil society? Has he spent his entire life working for the betterment of us all? Does he have a clear vision, does he see what's going on, does he have ideas for how to fix things? Does he represent and share my ethics? Absolutely. In spades.

Ralph Nader is a man of tremendous intellectual rigor and passion, who has the incredible ability to maintain an optimism in the face of outrageous and scandalous injustice. And few people are as aware of injustice and its systemic causes as he. I've seen him speak in person over six times, and each time he was sharp as a tack, impassioned, optimistic, and committed to making the world a better place. He's a brilliant and charismatic speaker, with reserves of energy I wish I had when I was a teenager.

Intelligence, altruism, keen awareness of social injustice and its causes, passionate defender of the common person against the awesome forces of power, a man of sterling character, a lifelong champion of democracy (and even capitalism! though capitalism with a small "c" rather than monopolistic corporatism). He is so passionate and committed to his causes that he seems to know no fear, meaning that he is a very courageous man — especially to fly in the face of the unbelievably enormous vituperation he's been subjected to in order to pursue what he considers the necessary course of action to make some kind of stand for democracy against its completely farcical and pejorative subordination to corporate — and now fascistic — power. (If there's one thing Nader has spent his entire life combatting it's fascism as defined by Mussolini: "Fascism should more properly be called 'corporatism,' since it is the marriage of government and corporate power.") Ralph Nader is one of history's great men, and I delight that I'm able to vote for him to represent me.

Damn right I'm going to vote for him! People always claim that they'd vote for a good man if one came along. Well, here he is! Yet people won't vote for him because they succumb to the constant fear drummed into the electorate that they must vote for the lesser of two evils. And a cowed and fearful electorate cannot be a truly democratic electorate. Democracy is so denuded in the US that it is a mere farcical shell. That BushCo can get away with their crimes against humanity and still receive almost 40% support from the electorate; that they can be taken seriously when they brand Kerry a liberal (no less an extreme leftie), only shows how far from reality the US electorate is.

I've never been a big believer in democracy, but the one thing democracy allows an individual to do is to register their conscience through the ballot box. Of course civic life in the US is now reduced to filling in a box every couple of years to select between the two candidates the powers-that-be choose for us to decide between. (And, as it's been said, If voting really changed anything, it would be made illegal.) However, I refuse to play along with the farce — if I'm allowed my one vote, I refuse to sell-out my conscience for the sake of damage-control. I will always vote for what I believe in, in the hope that others will do likewise.

Though I'm not a passionate defender of democracy I believe in it only to the extent that it's a vibrant, living manifestation of an informed and educated citizenry, which no one can claim the US is. As such, it is my right — nay, it is my duty! — to vote my conscience, assuming that I am informed and educated enough to make a reasoned determination as to what I believe is in my own best interest, as well as society at large. I wholeheartedly ascribe to Nader's assertion that a "vote for the lesser of two evils is still a vote for evil." I have been voting since 1978, and I have seldom voted for any republicrat because I don't vote out of strategy. I vote for what I want, not for something I don't want because it would prevent something worse.

Of course part of the solution to such predicaments is instant-runoff voting (IRV) and proportional representation. But the fact that it doesn't exist at present still doesn't deter me from voting my conscience. The voters of East Timor voted overwhelmingly in favor of independence from Indonesia, even though guns were pointed at their heads not to. That's the power of real democracy, which terrifies the elite running the country. That's something worth dying for — just ask the East Timorese. (More importantly, that's something worth living for too!) And that's why when someone with Nader's integrity runs a serious campaign the stops are out to first minimize, and then to vituperate him, his campaign, and his supporters. Do I know that BushCo republicans are cynically funding his campaign? Yes. Does it matter to me? Hey, I'm glad he's getting more money, from whatever source, to run his campaign: more money for him means less for BushCo.

I don't begrudge anybody their vote against Bush. I understand the fear, I understand the anger, I understand the immense importance of getting BushCo out of office, and the passion such an effort entails. And I hope that those who disagree with me and my point of view will give me the same courtesy. I did the best I could to articulate my reasons.

It just seems to me that the people of East Timor understand democracy better than Americans do.


Mirrors & Megaphones

On the bus home Saturday from the company picnic to which I took my son — who said, at two points, "Everybody's happy here!", which is a wonderful thing for a father to hear! — I chatted briefly with a Canadian couple who moved back to Canada after living seven years in the Bay Area, California. The wife had an interesting observation. I will do my best to paraphrase it.

When I moved back to Canada I noticed that the news reflected the values and thoughts of the people who live here. Whether it's the newspaper or TV news, you have the feeling that it shares the point of view of the people who are reading or watching it. I never got that feeling in the States. The news there never reflected the views and attitudes of the people I knew.

I think this is a very interesting and astute observation.

Murkans may consider their media definitely slanted with an agenda, but few consider the media to be an overt propandistic mouthpiece of their government the way, say, Tass was for the USSR. The myth of the fourth estate as a neutral, objective source of journalism still persists.

Or so it seems. Surprisingly, research done in the early 90s indicates that the majority of the public don't believe the media reflects their viewpoint. The study "revealed widespread dissatisfaction with news coverage." According to an important and widely publicized report — Citizens and Politics: A View from Main Street — prepared by the Harwood Group for the Kettering Foundation — the majority of Americans

believe there has been "a hostile takeover of politics by special interests and lobbyists (along with negative campaigns and the media)." They care about politics, but they no longer believe they can have a meaningful impact on the political scene. They look upon the avenues for input available to them as "window dressings," not serious attempts to hear what they have to say.

Basically, America's media is lying to them and the people know it. Whether perceived as having a liberal agenda to tear down the beloved cultural institutions of the knuckle-draggers, or pushing the agenda of the corporations that own them, few believe what they're being force-fed to believe. Beyond the eye-candy spectacle of fear-inducing pseudo-news which the media consumer is supposed to transpose to a desire to shop, people sense a disconnect between what they're told to believe and what they know the truth to be.

American media is a megaphone constantly force-feeding their consumers a diet of sugar-coated carrots and sticks: be afraid, don't trust yourself to understand what's going on, be confused so you'll trust our lies, black is white and white is black, go shopping. The fact that the media plays the public like a Hammond Organ to believe what they're told to believe doesn't alter the fact that people know they're being lied to and manipulated.

American media, simply, does not reflect the truth, it does not reflect people's everyday concerns, it does not reflect people's everyday realities. It is a megaphone shouting at them to accept things that people know just ain't so. And, sadly, it's a lot easier for people to just give up and let it roll over them than try to constantly fight against the tide. It's on the same spectrum as the Army's use of aural warfare when they blast disco and Barney tunes to get an enemy to come out of hiding.

Because, after all, studies have shown that people will alter what they know is the truth if they see it conflicts with how others perceive it. People will sooner think their own perception or cognition is faulty than that the larger group is mistaken. Part of the reason for this is that a person's need to feel a sense of belonging is built into us, it is a part of our evolutionary psychology — and people are uncomfortable if they see themselves as an outsider. If everybody says 2+2=5, it takes a rare person to hold fast to their idea of the true truth against an all-encompassing social reality. Orwell understood this all too well when he wrote 1984.

Other relevant studies show that people will sooner believe lies from a well-dressed person assuming the role of an authority, than they will believe the truth delivered from some unshaven slob in a t-shirt. People generally believe appearance over substance because people generally reach their conclusions from an emotional rather than rational basis.

Media managers take advantage of these sociological & psychological truths by wrapping their stories in the guise of neutrality and objectivity, delivered by spokespeople seen as authorities, who then broadcast their twisted take on reality. It's no wonder that people don't trust the media — they sense their reality is not quite what is being reflected back to them by their media.

I seldom read newspapers, and haven't watched TV in many years. The only time I watch TV is when I'm in a hotel or visiting family. The few times I've read Canadian newspapers and magazines, and the few times I've watched Canadian TV, confirmed, for me, the bus-rider's observation that Canadian media reflects the beliefs, attitudes, and opinions of its citizens. I've seen things on Canadian TV I would never see in Murka; in fact, I was so surprised by some of the things I saw — shows that were intelligently and actively critical of policy, for instance; or shows that spent time sympathetically interviewing left-leaning activists and intellectuals — I knew that I had to be in a different country. After seeing such shows as these, and seeing that they were common, I came to the definitive awareness that Canada is definitely not America's 51st state, that it truly is a different country. Canada may have a lot in common with American culture, but it's surface stuff — deep down, the differences are substantive and meaningful.

People may disagree with the media here, and may consider it biased, but it's on a whole different scale than America's. The Canadian media here does indeed reflect people's notions of reality. It functions as a mirror in which a culture can come to understand itself. And if there's one thing Canadians specialize in it's actively trying to understand what their cultural identity is. I love that about Canada. I am so glad I'm here!

Reverend Mykeru on Florida

Good writing from Reverend Mykeru about one of Murka's most fucked-up states:

Recently though, Florida has also become a crucible for developing some of the most cutting edge dirt in the Republican arsenal of dirty tricks where any sort of weirdness, corruption and immorality is permissible, provided you do it with the Bible in one hand and the Stars and Stripes in the other. Patriotism may be the last refuge of the scoundrel, but it's often the first refuge of the serious asshole.

Florida was the staging area for the theft of the 2000 election. Florida is the base of operations for drug-addled right wing gasbags like Rush Limbaugh. Florida is such a fucked up place, in fact, that the Church of Scientology made its home in Clearwater, Florida, taking it over like the pod people in some cheesy Invasion of the Body Snatchers rip-off.

Florida should, quite frankly, be sawn off at its Northern border, floated out to some deep Atlantic trench and dropped like a brick tied around a bag of shit.

He goes on to examine a court case there in which coming up with a legally binding, manichean definition of gender is of epistemological life-or-death importance to the knuckle-draggers.

He also includes some great toss-offs like this:

Maybe you have your own favorite [right-wing canard]. Mine is the idea that one must support the troops by refraining from criticizing the politicians who sent them off to die regardless of how lame or dishonest the rational for sending them. In virtually every issue, drugs, taxation, civil rights, what have you, the right-wing has created a strawman issue to conceal their machination, a bit of misdirection and slight of hand which would be crude by amateur magician's standards were it not for the naive simplicity of those watching the performance.

I think my favorite right-wing canard is "They hate our freedoms." I suppose by taking away our freedoms they won't hate us anymore, and then they won't have any reason to attack us. Good strategy — they're doing a great job implementing it.


Let the Show Trials Begin!

Show trials are media events that serve a cultural purpose:

...Media Events can transform reality and signal new possibilities for the future. In the case of great trials, this transformative power is both tangible (i.e. one is sentenced to death), and symbolic (i.e. public opinion is made aware of a new reality).
This power would seem to largely derive from the instrumental staging that military or government leaders develop. By creating a theatrical framework hidden under the guise of the legal process, show trials are able to tell convincing narratives about contested ideologies or events. These narratives are then distributed via the media to the public who eventually evaluate the trials ultimate transformative effects. In this process, collective memory is shaped, in some cases to fear and hate, and others to justice. The difference between these two outcomes is likely due to the presence of a rational-legal justice system, although the line between illegitimate show trial and legitimate show trial is exceedingly thin.

Stalin used show trials to compel obeisance to the state and achieve totalitarian control. Hitler used them against the White Rose movement and other dissidents to illustrate that protest was verbotten. The show trial of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg served up human sacrifices to simultaneously exorcise both the evil of Communism and the evil of the McCarthy witch-hunts.

Though show trials can be used for good (Eichmann in Jerusalem), they are also an excellent way for a totalitarian power to signal what the state expects of its citizens. ("There's a new sheriff in town and this is how it's going to be.") I may be wrong, but it feels like there's one in the wings coming up for the entertainment and edification of the American Public; in fact, it may be a double feature.

Once again Xymphora was my primary informant, and from him you can read just how chess genius Bobby Fischer was entrapped for extradition to return to Murka to face trial for "violating [a] United Nations sanction."

Year ago, when I read Fischer's comments about 9/11 in Harper's Magazine, I knew that wasn't the last I'd be hearing about it; I knew that someday he'd pay for his sins, and that it was only a matter of time before he'd be brought to task. And now that time has come. There was no way he wasn't going to pay for these comments:

This is all wonderful news. It is time to finish off the US once and for all.

I was happy and could not believe what was happening. All the crimes the US has committed in the world. This just shows, what goes around comes around, even to the US.

I applaud the act. The US and Israel have been slaughtering the Palestinians for years. Now it is coming back at the US.

The horror, of course, was that someone — an American, yet! — openly said what was behind the attack. That he wrapped it in a gloating coat of schadenfreude was just the sort of present that allowed the Brown Shirts to paint any serious inquiry into the causes of the attack as inherently "anti-american" and treasonous. Thus, when Chomsky or Zinn or any critic of Murkan foreign policy explored the reasons behind the attack they could easily just paint them with the same brush.

I'll never forget driving home from work the day of the attack. I was listening to Pacifica Radio where a caller was castigating the hosts for daring to explore the reasons for the attack. It was the first time I had heard the expression "Blame America First" and I knew right then and there that the Mighty Wurlitzer had already fashioned a plan to preclude serious inquiry into the reasons for the attack: the Mighty Wurlitzer was providing their constituents with a knee-jerk euphemism that would give them an escape hatch to shut down their brains whenever they heard someone ask "why". Thus anyone who wasn't just mindlessly keening and demanding their pound of retaliatory flesh at the horrendous attack was automatically painted as subversive. To ask "why" was tantamount to treason.

It didn't matter that Falwell and Robertson also gloated about the attack, blaming it on gays and the ACLU. Since they're rightwing nuts all they have to do is offer a lame apology and all is forgiven and forgotten. But should someone dare to actually claim that maybe the attackers had a legitimate grievance, that maybe it was in retaliation for things America had done, that maybe it wasn't simply because "they hate our freedoms", then that person must be punished. It's easy to forgive lies; it's difficult to forgive truths.

And, of course, attempts at understanding were conflated with sympathy for the attackers: even attempting to understand the reasons behind the attack meant that one must naturally sympathize and side with the terrorists. People naturally have difficulty apprehending the distinction between understanding and sympathy, Americans especially so. [My first major investigation, On Blaming a Shark, explores this theme.]

Like any malign despot who cannot tolerate dissension the thought police must make an example of the heretic. Bobby Fischer will pay the sacrificial price for his indelicate comment and suffer the modern version of the public flogging and burning. America needs to displace its frustrated fury for its plenitude of missteps and problems onto someone, preferably an "enemy from within"; that he happens to be a brilliant, eccentric non-conformist is only the frosting on the cake: it will allow the rubes to feel better about themselves by proving just how dangerous and inherently unpatriotic using one's mind can be. Plus it will have the added bonus of serving as a wonderfully entertaining distraction from the sound of the toilet flushing in the background.

(The latest news is that Fischer is seeking political asylum. Seeing as how Japan is cozying up to Murka lately it's hard to imagine that he'll get it.)

Will Bobby Fischer have a show trial? It's too early to say. But given the mindset of this administration and their desperate need to hide the wizard back behind the curtain anything will do, and a nice show trial would fit several bills at once.

Speaking of show trials, will Sadam Hussein have one? Doubtful. After Manuel Noriega was captured he disappeared from the media. Noriega and Hussein, after all, were Murka's bosom buddies who owed their jobs (and hefty paychecks) to the CIA and the Murkan taxpayer. The last thing the power elite want is their skeletons to come break-dancing out of the closet.

The other potential show trial concerns Charles Robert Jenkins, the 65 year old who deserted the army to go to North Korea 30 years ago. Senator McCarthy, for his HUAC show trials, was careful in choosing victims who would cower before them instead of stand up to them. I expect that right now there are all sorts of deliberations to see if they should try Mr. Jenkins to make an example of him for Murka's future cannon fodder. After all it might backfire if you vituperate some decrepit old man as he teeters on the brink of death. But a show trial might be just the ticket to get future bullet-catchers to think twice about having a conscience about their jobs.

[Oh, and a "Thanks for the honor!" to feverpytch who mentioned me in the same post as Xymphora.]


Rondo I

More than ever, we have to be vigilant. We must remain alert and aware of the people and institutions that encroach on the values we hold dear as Americans. I'm not just speaking of the terrorists in dirty nightshirts who will use any means to attack us.

No. We must fight for our freedom on many fronts, including on our own soil, within our own government, within our educational system, within our courts and especially within the media.

Whether you know it or not, we have a lot of internal enemies in this country. They hate our freedoms. Some of them are representatives, some of them are lawyers, some of them are state senators, some of them are mayors, some of them are just plain psychotic street thugs, but we have plenty of homegrown haters of America.

For instance, just as the Founding Fathers sought independence from British tyranny, today you and I must seek independence from the judicial tyranny of the Supreme Court. The Stench from the Bench has stepped in it once again with its endorsement of moral degradation which, as you'll see in a later chapter, was a complete reversal of what they ruled just 17 years ago.

Yes, there is much to do - or undo as the case may be. But, as John Adams said so well, "Liberty, once lost, is lost forever." That is why I, Michael Savage, refuse to toss in the towel. Not now. Not ever.

Not on my watch.

Michael Savage. Liberals at the wheel. 1/28/04

Our adaptations also include some darker ultimate motives that people sometimes have — intergroup competition for dominance, boundary definition, and fear of social exlusion. These behavioral traits foster a hostility to other groups that often tears society apart. In the words of Sober and Wilson: "Group selection does provide a setting in which helping behavior directed at members of one's own group can evolve; however, it equally provides a context in which hurting individuals in other groups can be selectively advantageous. Group selection favors within-group niceness and between-group nastiness." Similarly, Steven Pinker writes: "For what it's worth, the theory of a module-packed mind allows both for innate motives that lead to evil acts and for innate motives that can avert them."

For us, the critical question is not whether every human in every culture engages in extraordinary evil, because they certainly do not. Rather, the more illuminating question is whether every human in every culture comes endowed with psychological mechanisms that leave us capable of committing extraordinary evil when activated by appropriate cues. People in all cultures feel that they are members of a group (a band, tribe, clan, or nation) and feel animosity toward other groups. Clearly then, intergroup relations include some significant adaptive problems. What kinds of selection pressures sustain such aggressive intergroup behavior in the face of its tremendous cost to some individuals? To restate in the words of our conceptualization of EP [Evolutionary Psychology], what set of universal reasoning circuits were designed by natural selection to solve the adaptive problems of intergroup relations faced by our hunter-gather ancestors?

Of the many we could explore, I believe there are three innate, evolution-produced tendencies of human nature that are most relevant to understanding our capacity for extraordinary evil — ethnocentrism, xenophobia, and the desire for social dominance. Studies worldwide show not only that these tendencies are universal in people, but also that they start in infancy. These are the powerful, innate, "animal" influences on human behavior that represent evolved social capacities lying at the core of human nature. They are the underlying, distant capacities that, in concert with other immediate and proximal influences, help us understand our capacity for our extraordinary evil toward one another.

James Waller. Becoming Evil: How Ordinary People Commit Genocide and Mass Killing. Oxford Univ Press, 2002. p152-3

Liberals are hopping mad about the war with Iraq. Showing the nuance and complexity of thought liberals pride themselves on, they are excitedly restating all the arguments they made before the war - arguments which were soundly rejected by the American people, the U.S. Congress and the Bush administration.

Before the war, they said Saddam Hussein - their favorite world leader behind Jacques Chirac - was not a threat to America's interests in the region, was not developing weapons of mass destruction, and did not harbor terrorists. Now that we've taken the country and are uncovering mass graves, canisters of poison gases, victims of Saddam's weapons of mass destruction and colonies of terrorists, liberals are claiming the war created it all.

Thus, an op-ed piece in the New York Times recently proclaimed: "America has taken a country that was not a terrorist threat and turned it into one." This was written by Jessica Stern of the Harvard Kennedy School of Government (Motto: "Where mediocre students pay exorbitant sums to say they went to Harvard"). You can't win with these people. The termites are swarming out into the light of day, and liberals are blaming the exterminator.

Liberals simply refuse to consider thoughts that would interfere with their lemming-like groupthink. They hold their hands over their ears like little children who don't want to listen to mother.

Yes, perhaps there are important textural differences between secular Saddam loyalists and Islamic crazies - though it's a little odd to be lectured on nuance from people who can grasp no difference whatsoever between Bill O'Reilly and Jesse Helms. But as George Bush said: You are with the terrorists or you are with America. Now we're getting a pretty clear picture of who is with the terrorists. As George Patton said, I like when the enemy shoots at me; then I know where the bastards are and can kill them.

Ann Coulter. Liberal Arguments: Still A Quagmire. 8/27/03

Although American political life has rarely been touched by the most acute varieties of class conflict, it has served again and again as an arena for uncommonly angry minds. Today this fact is most evident on the extreme right wing, which has shown, particularly in the Goldwater movement, how much political leverage can be got out of the animosities and passions of a small minority. Behind such movements there is a style of mind, not always right-wing in its affiliations, that has a long and varied history. I call it the paranoid style simply because no other word adequately evokes the qualities of heated exaggeration, suspiciousness, and conspiratorial fantasy that I have in mind. In using the expression "paranoid style," I am not speaking in a clinical sense, but borrowing a clinical term for other purposes. I have neither the competence nor the desire to classify any figures of the past or present as certifiable lunatics. In fact, the idea of the paranoid style would have little contemporary relevance or historical value if it were applied only to people with profoundly disturbed minds. It is the use of paranoid modes of expression by more or less normal people that makes the phenomenon significant.

When I speak of the paranoid style, I use the term much as a historian of art might speak of the baroque or the mannerist style. It is, above all, a way of seeing the world and of expressing oneself. Webster defines paranoia, the clinical entity, as a chronic mental disorder characterized by systematized delusions of persecution and of one's own greatness. In the paranoid style, as I conceive it, the feeling of persecution is central, and it is indeed systematized in grandiose theories of conspiracy. But there is a vital difference between the paranoid spokesman in politics and the clinical paranoiac: although they both tend to be overheated, oversuspicious, overaggressive, grandiose, and apocalyptic in expression, the clinical paranoid sees the hostile and conspiratorial world in which he feels himself to be living as directed specifically against him; whereas the spokesman of the paranoid style finds it directed against a nation, a culture, a way of life whose fate affects not himself alone but millions of others. Insofar as he does not usually see himself singled out as the individual victim of a personal conspiracy, he is somewhat more rational and much more disinterested. His sense that his political passions are unselfish and patriotic, in fact, goes far to intensify his feeling of righteousness and his moral indignation.

Of course, the term "paranoid style" is pejorative, and it is meant to be; the paranoid style has a greater affinity for bad causes than good. But nothing entirely prevents a sound program or a sound issue from being advocated in the paranoid style, and it is admittedly impossible to settle the merits of an argument because we think we hear in its presentation the characteristic paranoid accents. Style has to do with the way in which ideas are believed and advocated rather than with the truth or falsity of their content.
A distorted style is, then, a possible signal that may alert us to a distorted judgement, just as in art an ugly style is a cue to fundamental defects of taste. What interests me here is the possibility of using political rhetoric to get at political pathology. One of the most impressive facts about the paranoid style, in this connection, is that it represents an old and recurrent mode of expression in our public life which has frequently been linked with movements of suspicious discontent and whose content remains much the same even when it is adopted by men of distinctly different purposes. Our experience suggests too that, while it comes in waves of different intensity, it appears to be all but ineradicable.

...the single case in modern history in which one might say that the paranoid style has had a consummatory triumph occurred not in the United States but in Germany. It is a common ingredient of fascism, and of frustrated nationalisms, though it appeals to many who are hardly fascists and it can frequently be seen in the left-wing press. The famous Stalin purge trials incorporated, in a supposedly juridical form, a wildly imaginative and devastating exercise in the paranoid style. In America it has been the preferred style only of minority movements. It can be argued, of course, that certain features of our history have given the paranoid style more scope and force among us than it has had in many other countries of the Western world. My intention here, however, is not to make such comparative judgments but simply to establish the reality of the style and to illustrate its frequent historical recurrence.

Richard Hofstadter. The Paranoid Style in American Politics and Other Essays. Harvard Univ Press 1965 (repr 1996). pp 3-7

Recent circumstances have led me to believe that Christians in America are increasingly at risk of becoming not just perpetual objects of ridicule, but potentially of being openly persecuted and punished for their beliefs by those pressing the absurd "tolerance" agenda.

One needs to look no further than the recent verbal assaults on President Bush, who is outspoken about his Christianity, to see how secularists are seeking to condemn him because of his sincerely-held beliefs.

In author Bob Woodward's new book, "Plan of Attack," President Bush is quoted as saying he prayed "for the strength to do the Lord's will" before committing the nation to war in Iraq.

Independent presidential candidate Ralph Nader subsequently claimed that Mr. Bush is "unstable." Mr. Nader, referring to the president as a "messianic militarist," actually suggested that Mr. Bush's reliance upon God is a "separation of church and state" issue.

I wonder if Mr. Nader is even remotely familiar with the beautiful expressions of faith of our Founding Fathers, men who possessed an acute sense of indebtedness to Almighty God for helping them fashion this nation. History recounts a profusion of unabashed indebtedness to God by our Founders. I believe that Washington, Jefferson, Madison and Franklin would have been troubled by Mr. Nader's careless attack on President Bush's convictions.

Thankfully, some of the president's defenders are attempting to shield him from the gratuitous verbal assaults that have come into play. William Donohue, president of the Catholic League, retorted, "The president turns to God for wisdom, and the elites get nervous. There is more than a phobia at work here — it's a deep-seated hostility to any public expression of religion."

I'll go one step further. This anti-Christian aggression is aimed at people of faith who acknowledge the Bible as the inspired Word of God and who endeavor to live their lives in devoted servitude to our beloved biblical edicts. If the elites, as Mr. Donohue describes them, had their way, I truly believe they would completely stifle the ability of Christians to express themselves in the public square (and maybe even in many private settings).

In this age of moral relativism, situational ethics and feel-good social trends, absolute truth is seen as worthless and even dangerous to the public good. Secularists know they will never be able to fully unleash their agenda of utopian inclusion if Christians continue to have an influence on the culture.

If you don't believe there is an effort to restrain biblical Christianity, listen to this.

In Canada, the House of Commons has passed a bill that includes sexual orientation as a protected category in the nation's genocide and hate-crimes legislation. As reported at WorldNetDaily.com, critics of the legislation, which was sponsored by a homosexual member of Parliament, believe that, in some instances, the Bible will be tagged as "hate literature" under the criminal code. In fact, the web site reported that a Saskatchewan man has already been fined by a provincial human-rights tribunal for taking out a newspaper ad referencing Scripture that reproves homosexuality.

As I've reported in past columns, when my sermons air on Canadian television, my staff must edit out any references to homosexuality or they simply will not air. The collective mindset in Canada, for the most part, is that the Bible is meaningless in terms of social policy.

In a troubling development, cloaked members of a group called the "Gay Militia" this week disrupted a gathering of Christians who were discussing the bill. They ranted, "Right-wing bigots go away; Gay Militia is here to stay," while the Christians prayed for God's leading in the situation.

The scene was reminiscent of a December 1989 incident that took place at New York's St. Patrick's Cathedral. A group of homosexual activists from "ACT UP" thundered into the historic church as the late Cardinal John O'Connor began his sermon and began screaming, throwing condoms at worshippers and chaining themselves to pews.

The intolerance level toward Christians is becoming more and more fanatical these days because homosexual-rights ideals have become completely mainstream and accepted as established truth, especially in the media. The impending result can mean only one thing — a growing undercurrent of activity that seeks to brand Christians as social undesirables.

In the meantime, Christians need to heed the words of Jesus and be about the Father's business. These are certainly troubling times, but believers need to be equipped to invade the culture with the Gospel — even at the threat of being labeled an extremist...or worse. I can think of no higher honor than being maligned or attacked for taking a stand for the Bible.

Jerry Falwell. Christianity Under Fire. 6/3/04

Let us now abstract the basic elements in the paranoid style. The central image is that of a vast and sinister conspiracy, a gigantic and yet subtle machinery of influence set in motion to undermine and destroy a way of life. One may object that there are conspiratorial acts in history, and there is nothing paranoid about taking note of them. This is true. All political behavior requires strategy, many strategic acts depend for their effect upon a period of secrecy, and anything that is secret may be described, often with but little exaggeration, as conspiratorial. The distinguishing thing about the paranoid style is not that its exponents see conspiracies or plots here and there in history, but that they regard a "vast" or "gigantic" conspiracy as the motive force in historical events. History is a conspiracy, set in motion by demonic forces of almost transcendent power, and what is felt to be needed to defeat it is not the usual methods of political give-and-take, but an all-out crusade. The paranoid spokesman sees the fate of this conspiracy in apocalyptic terms — he traffics in the birth and death of whole worlds, whole political orders, whole systems of human values. He is always manning the barricades of civilization. He constantly lives at a turning point: it is now or never in organizing resistance to conspiracy. Time is forever running out. Like religious millenarians, he expresses the anxiety of those who are living through the last days and he is sometimes disposed to set a date for the apocalypse...The apocalypticism of the paranoid style runs dangerously near to hopeless pessimism, but usually stops short of it. Apocalyptic warnings arouse passion and militancy, and strike at susceptibility to similar themes in Christianity. Properly expressed, such warnings serve somewhat the same function as a description of the horrible consequences of sin in a revivalist sermon: they portray that which impends but which may still be avoided. They are a secular and demonic version of adventism.

As a member of the avant-garde who is capable of perceiving the conspiracy before it is fully obvious to an as yet unaroused public, the paranoid is a militant leader. He does not see social conflict as something to be mediated and compromised, in the manner of the working politician. Since what is at stake is always a conflict between absolute good and absolute evil, the quality needed is not a willingness to compromise but the will to fight things out to a finish. Nothing but complete victory will do. Since the enemy is thought of as being totally evil and totally unappeasable, he must be totally eliminated — if not from the world, at least from the theater of operations to which the paranoid directs his attention. This demand for unqualified victories leads to the formulation of hopelessly demanding and unrealistic goals, and since these goals are not even remotely attainable, failure constantly heightens the paranoid's frustration. Even partial success leaves him with the same sense of powerlessness with which he began, and this in turn only strengthens his awareness of the vast and terrifying quality of the enemy he opposes.
This enemy seems to be on many counts a projection of the self: both the ideal and the unacceptable aspects of the self are attributed to him. A fundamental paradox of the paranoid style is the imitation of the enemy. The enemy, for example, may be the cosmopolitan intellectual, but the paranoid will outdo him in the apparatus of scholarship, even of pedantry...Secret organizations set up to combat secret organizations give the same flattery...
...Studying the millennial sects of Europe from the eleventh to the sixteenth century, Norman Cohn finds, in his brilliant book The Pursuit of the Millennium, a persistent psychological complex that closely resembles what I have been considering — a style made up of certain marked preoccupations and fantasies: "the megalomanic view of oneself as the Elect, wholly good, abominably persecuted yet assured of ultimate triumph; the attribution of gigantic and demonic powers to the adversary; the refusal to acccept the ineluctable limitations and imperfections of human existence, such as transience, dissention, conflict, fallibility whether intellectual or moral; the obsession with inerrable prophecies...systematized misinterpretations, always gross and often grotesque...ruthlessness directed towards an end which by its very nature cannot be realised — towards a total and final solution such as cannot be attained at any actual time or in any concrete situation, but only in the timeless and autistic realm of phantasy."

Richard Hofstadter. The Paranoid Style in American Politics and Other Essays. Harvard Univ Press 1965 (repr 1996). pp 29-31, 32, 38

1. We affirm that God established the family when He joined Adam and Eve in marriage and instituted their relationship as a life-long covenant and commitment to God and to each other (Genesis 2:22-24; Isaiah 49:15); that the marriage and other family relationships can fulfill their complete intended potential only as each member is individually reconciled to God and sanctified through the work and Lordship of Jesus Christ; and that God ordained the family as a social institution designed to reflect His image on the earth, to bring the earth into submission to His plan, and to be fruitful and multiply (Ephesians 5:22,23; Genesis 1:27,28).

We deny that the family is merely a social contract or a relationship of convenience invented by humans without accountability to God, and that Christian marriage should be hedonistically self- centered (Hebrews 13:4; 2 Corinthians 6:14; Ephesians 5:21; Psalm 127:1; Proverbs 18:22).
15. We affirm that children are a blessing from God of worth beyond human capacity to measure, and should be welcomed joyously into the family as precious gifts from Him; that children belong to God alone, with the parents being are their God-ordained stewards; and that God gives parents the primary responsibility and authority for the education and physical, social, emotional, and and spiritual well-being of children (Genesis 33:5; Psalm 78:1-8; 127:3-5; Proverbs 17:6; 1 Timothy 2:15; Ephesians 6:1-4; Deuteronomy 4:9; 6:1-9).

We deny that parents should adopt the secular culture's anti-child spirit that promotes abuse, neglect, exploitation, parental absence or inaccessibility, lack of supervision,, social parenting in lieu of family rearing, excessive age segregation and peer influence of children, use of children's needs as political pawns, education of children as social experimentation, and governmental usurpation of parental responsibility; and that children should be treated as an evil to be aborted or prevented, a financial burden to be resented or limited, or the property of either the parents or the state.
17. We affirm that God commands all children to honor their parents and minor children to obey them in the Lord; that Scripture gives parents the right and responsibility to enforce obedience through discipline, including corporal punishment (Deuteronomy 5:16; 2 Samuel 7:14, cf. Proverbs 3:11,12; Proverbs 13:24; 22:15; 23:13; 29:15); and that training in godly obedience is the foundation of personal self-government and of all civil governments of free men and women. We deny that the family should be a democracy; that lovingly enforced obedience harms a child; and that civil government has a right to define wisely-administered corporal punishment as "child abuse" or to allow children to "divorce" their parents.
18. We affirm that the goal of Christian parenthood should be to present children to the Lord as responsible, spiritually mature adults by the time they reach full physical maturity (Luke 2:41,42). We deny that adolescence should be artificially prolonged beyond full physical maturity; that teenagers have the right to be irresponsible and self-centered; and that their elders should expect or allow such behavior from them.
41. We affirm that God grants the magistrate the power to punish evil acts and to encourage good behavior; that crimes occurring within the family should be justly punished; and that the state should promote a social, economic, and physical environment conducive to family life (Romans 13:3,4).

We deny that the state has the right to set extrabiblical standards for who may marry, who may have children, how children are to be disciplined and educated, or how husbands and wives or other family members may relate to each other; that God grants civil governments the right to strangle family economic freedom through ruinous taxation (including robbing widows and orphans by inheritance taxes), oppressive land use laws, or favoritism for large corporations; and that the state should legalize or fund abortion, infanticide, or euthanasia.
42. We affirm that sexual abuse and parents' willfully depriving their children of shelter, clothing, food, sleep, or essential medical care, thus endangering their lives and physical health, should be treated as unlawful assault or attempted murder and the offenders punished accordingly by civil government and disciplined by the Church.

We deny that the state has a right to impose unrealistic standards on families; that the so-called offenses of "emotional neglect," "emotional abuse," "educational neglect," etc., which form the bulk of substantiated reports of "child abuse and neglect," are in fact crimes against children; that the state has any right to administer criminal penalties or usurp custody in neglect cases except when a child's life or physical health is obviously endangered; and that the state should ever administer criminal penalties or usurp custody in cases where the only accusation concerns mental health, since the state should not mandate what particular beliefs and attitudes are healthy or acceptable. We further deny that involuntary neglect caused by poverty or other uncontrollable circumstances should ever be treated as a crime, and that even sinful families are helped more by the threat of removing their children rather than by prayer, godly instruction, and loving assistance.
44. We affirm that the scriptural penalty for genuine crimes against children falls solely on the perpetrator, not on other family members or the victim.

We deny that children should be removed from the non-offending spouse's custody.

45. We affirm that Biblical spanking may cause temporary and superficial bruises or welts that do not constitute child abuse, but that proven brutality to a child resulting in permanent disfigurement or serious injury should be punished by law (Exodus 21:23,24; Proverbs 13:24; 22:15; 23:13,14). We deny that the right and responsibility to discipline ever give parents the right to seriously injure their children.

Jerry Regier [et al], Head of Florida's Department of Children and Families, [Florida's child welfare agency]. The Christian World View of the Family.

Powerful psychological forces in the form of anger, shame, helplessness, and fear, together with political, economic, and social factors, contribute to war and genocide. Social scientists commonly dismiss the idea that emotions are important factors in the outbreak of wars, preferring to emphasize what they see as objective economic, historical, and geopolitical factors. This preference is itself a way of denying the role of emotion in history and public policy. As individuals and nations, we want to believe that our behavior is based on rational considerations and not on what we consider the embarrassing, petty hurts of childhood. Although emotions are only a contributing cause — along with many other factors — in the outbreak of wars, their role is a significant one we should not discount. One of the principal ways emotions affect the decision to wage war is through creation of public support for governmental violence.

How do governments seduce the population into military adventures? We argue in earlier chapters that physical punishment in childhood often produces denial of the violence perpetrated by parents and other authority figures and a propensity to project the associated feelings of weakness and shame onto despised outgroups. To the extent that individuals idealize the government and national leaders, as they do the parents who punished them, they will follow leader' cues to displace their anger onto those defined as enemies of the nation. They can thus maintain their idealization of the parents and denial of the parental misuse of force. As we report in chapter 3, a high level of childhood punishment is associated with support for the use of military force. Other researchers have also found that authoritarians tend to approve of past wars, including the Vietnam War, more often than nonauthoritarians.

In a classic article on the subject, political scientist Murray Edelman (1971) argues that governments attempt to generate a series of public perceptions in support of their actions. These perceptions do not necessarily have anything to do with reality; in fact, they often represent a simplified version of events, if not a deliberate falsification. They include perceptions that

(1) popular views and participation influence political decisions;
(2) governmental leaders are able to cope with issues too complex for the public to understand;
(3) particular groups in the world are evil;
(4) other groups in the world are friendly; and
(5) certain kinds of actions are evil.

The first of these perceptions is quite often false, precisely because governments create public opinion to support their actions as often as their actions reflect it.

One important way government officials create the perception that certain groups are evil — and that others are friendly — is through language. Ronald Reagan, for example, labeled the Soviet Union "the evil empire." Government officials use melodramatic language, which is echoed and often heightened by the media, to repesent opposing nations as villainous and its own people as virtuous and heroic. Moreover, government and military officials disguise their use of force with antiseptic metaphors, leading the public to perceive both their own and other nations in simplistic ways that encourage the use of force. If the enemy is evil and this moral failing is the source of its actions, then negotiation, after all, is pointless; we have no choice but to fight.
We have seen that authoritarians' denial of the pain of childhood abuse leads to glorification of the punitive parents and uncritical adoration of other authority figures. It is also likely to produce overreliance on external controls of behavior. According to Merelman (1969), children whose behavior is strictly controlled by external sanctions have no opportunity to develop their own internalized sense of morality. Authoritarians displace their anger toward parents onto substitute targets defined by the prejudices of parents and their society. Given Alice Miller's very convincing evidence of the severity and harshness of child rearing in Germany (though not limited to that nation), it is perhaps not surprising that Germans were able, psychologically, to stand by and do nothing when a previously stereotyped out-group, the Jews, were demonized and slaughtered.

Contemporary research documenting the correlates of authoritarianism is not encouraging when it comes to their willingness to obey orders to harm others or go along with governmental violence (Altemeyer 1988). In chapter 4, we reported on a study by Altermeyer and Hunsberger (1992) that found individuals who scored high on measures of authoritarianism more willing than nonauthoritarians to endorse a law outlawing radical political movements and to help the government track down, torture, and even execute radicals. The finding held even when the researchers controlled for the subjects' educational levels.

Apparently individuals who are high on the authoritarianism scale are also not bothered by unjust or illegal acts committed by government officials; for example, many of them supported Richard Nixon despite Watergate. They are also more likely than nonauthoritarians to agree that "democracy gives people too much freedom" and to support repeal of the Bill of Rights. Further, the accumulated research has shown that authoritarians are much more accepting of a right-wing government abusing power than a left-wing government doing so.

Michael A. Milburn & Sheree D. Conrad. The Politics of Denial. The MIT Press, 1996. pp 167-9, 181-2.

This move afoot to dump Dick Cheney is more than a clever Democratic ploy to generate GOP chaos since some Republicans favor it, too. But, respectfully, they're wrong.

Cheney has been the Democrats' and partisan media's whipping boy for some time now. He makes a nice target, since he is an unapologetically successful capitalist, a hawk and an articulate point man for the administration's policy agenda. Also he refuses to pander to the media or political correctness, and is beset by medical problems.

Back when the Democrats were living in the post 9-11 world, they grudgingly respected Cheney and the experience he brought to the team. His calm, deliberate and low-decibel approach was considered an asset as we were momentarily united in marshaling our resources to fend off the terrorist threat.

Indeed, some of the first shots the media fired at President Bush amounted to backhanded praise for Cheney. Bush, they said, was too simple to be running the show, so Cheney was pulling the strings behind the scenes. Unlike Bush, he had "gravitas."

But from the outset, Democrats disliked Cheney. After all, he as a co-conspirator in the "stolen" election. They began to grumble about Cheney's alleged conflicts of interest with mega-evil corporation Halliburton.

But Halliburton was just a convenient vehicle to smear Cheney. All but those on heavy medication realize Bush and Cheney didn't attack Iraq to line their own pocketbooks. What really started bothering Democrats was Cheney's increasingly visible role as a fierce advocate for regime change in Iraq. This qualified him for graduation from mere dislike to white-hot hatred. Henceforth, he had to be slandered equally to Bush.

In fact, because of George Bush's general likeability, it became all the more imperative that Cheney be defamed. No matter how much they trashed Bush, people still seemed to believe he was a decent guy. Cheney's demeanor makes him more vulnerable to attack.
It's highly doubtful that Cheney will drag down the ticket, but his removal might. The conservative base remains strongly behind him and would be justifiably upset if he were cashiered. As for so-called swing voters, they are going to vote mainly for president, not vice president.

Besides, Cheney can more than hold his own against Edwards, unless you're talking solely about superficial qualities. Edwards may be more glib and charismatic, but Cheney is the adult with a reservoir of knowledge, maturity and experience, especially in foreign affairs and defense, which will be the deciding issues in this war-dominated campaign.
But there's a more fundamental reason Cheney shouldn't be fired. While his role has been overstated - he's not the de facto president - he is nevertheless an essential part of the governing team who has played a major role in national security decisions. He and the president, while not co-presidents, are seen as one, where the war on terror and Iraq policy are concerned.

President Bush's removal of Cheney for other than health reasons would be tantamount to an admission by the president that his own national security policies have been flawed and that he has to change course. He would be sending a message of no-confidence in his own governance because if Cheney has been wrong or too hawkish, so has Bush. Democrats now clamoring for Cheney's head would triumphantly portray his expulsion as complete vindication of all their opportunistic criticism of the war effort.

President Bush is not about to concede that he has been traveling the wrong course in the war by discharging the man who has helped him more than any other to navigate these treacherous waters the last three years. There won't be any turning back now - and there shouldn't be.

David Limbaugh. Don't Dump Cheney. 7/16/04

We are comforted by familiarity and by others like us. But to maintain the sense of group — and self — cohesion we must differentiate ourselves from strangers. Strangers, then, are necessary for our process of self-definition. To say "these things are specially good and are specially part of me" is to say "those other things are specially bad and not part of me but part of others." Because enemies are necessary for self-definition, it is necessary to have enemies in our midst.

...Maintaining boundaries is the foundation of an integrated psychological, social, and economic system that excludes strangers and ensures the continuity of the group. We project into strangers what we disown in ourselves. We end where they begin.
The more "different" the stranger in our midst, the more readily available he is as a target for externalization. An important aspect of the development of group identity is symbols of difference shared by the other — symbols on which to project hatred. But because it is representations of the self that are being projected, there must be a kinship recognized at an unconscious level. We are bound to those we hate. Nevertheless, there must be a recognizable difference, a distinct gap to facilitate the distinction between "us" and "them." A "good enough enemy" is an object that is available to serve as a reservoir for all the negated aspects of the self. In this way, the enemy provides the valuable function of stabilizing the internal group by storing group projections. Just as the paranoid delusional system makes sense and provides cohesion for the individual ego under threat of fragmentation, so too does the enemy provide cohesion for the social group, especially the social group under stress. Ironically, those groups from which we most passionately distinguish ourselves are those to which we are most closely bound. The enemy who we are certain is a despicable "other" is littered with parts cast out from the self.

Enemies, therefore, are to be cherished, cultivated, and preserved, for if we lose them our self-definition is endangered. But this identity created process — a psychological necessity — results in a world populated by groups with varying degrees of animosity, excessive self-regard, and fear of others. A mature, integrated person learns that "enemy" objects are at most adversaries or distasteful beings, not object to be hated or destroyed. For some people, and for many when under stress, however, the bad objects become true enemies.
Recall that the image of the enemy that the paranoid creates is often a projection of his own feelings, a mirror image of himself. The paranoid sees his actions as reactions required by the enemy. If the enemy is seen as deceiving through writings, the paranoid will make use of the most detailed and elaborate pseudo-scholarship. Conspiracy will have to be fought with conspiracy, organization with organization. The paranoid motivations, fears, anxieties, and desires will be ascribed to phantom opponents. The relationship with the enemy is thus one beginning in fantasy and externalization, but if the adversay is drawn into responding, what began as fantasy is transformed into reality. These mechanisms contribute to the psychology of nations at war, with each nation externalizing its bad objects and aggressive impulses onto the enemy. Each nation's own side is idealized, its aggression required by the persecutory enemy.
The absolute certainty with which the paranoid leader radiates his externalizing hatred is compelling to followers who have lost their moorings. That conviction of rectitude is essential to the maintenance of self-esteem and psychological integrity. To admit error would be to acknowledge a personal defect and would be a blow to the paranoid's already fragile self-esteem. To breach the paranoid leader's certitude would unglue the connection between him and his followers. For it is his possession of the truth that permits the paranoid leader to take an assemblage of frustrated, angry individuals and, by the power of his rhetoric, inflame them, focusing their aggressive energy on the enemy without. Thus, disaggregated individuals become a powerful social movement.

The feeling of oneness with the crowd is powerful, but equally powerful is the feeling of distrust and persecution toward those who do not belong, the outsiders who are perceived to be intent on destroying the crowd. Those who do not subscribe to the belief system challenge the very foundations of the crowd. Insiders who question the unifying beliefs of the movement are an even greater threat. Skepticism is treason, and the insider who persists in questioning will find himself an outsider. The feelings of persecution, then, are directed against both the "attack" from without and the "conspiracy" within. Like a besieged city, the movement must strengthen its walls against the enemy without and search for enemies within. True belief does not permit question and doubt.

Robert S. Robins & Jerrold M. Post, MD. Political Paranoia: The Psychopolitics of Hatred. Yale Univ Press, 1997. pp 90-95.

In the Islamic tradition everything that is taken by Islam is called the land of peace. Everything that is not taken is called Dar al-Harb. That means the land of war and you are sitting today in Dar al-Harb. Detroit Dar al-Harb. We are the land of war, and anyplace not under the land of peace is fair game for the land of war. This is why people will fly into buildings and kill themselves. This is why people will not have any compunction whatever to blow up innocent women and children. This is why extreme car bombers will go into a shopping center in Israel or a pizza parlor or a bar mitzvah and kill themselves in order to take thousands or hundreds of others out. Because they are told if they die in the cause of jihad, they will go immediately to paradise, and therefore they will be given 72 virgins as their reward.

We must understand what we are up against. We must understand the history. I might add that in 1095 one of the popes said we have to fight fire with fire, and he authorized the Crusade. And he said those who participate in the Crusade against the Muslim will gain access to paradise in the event they are killed. So he launched on the side of Christianity a jihad comparable to what had been launched by the Muslims. And so when the president mentions a crusade, you can see everybody's back get up. Because these folks in the Middle East remember that. They remember. They remember history. They consider Spain as part of their territory. They consider Palestine as part of their territory. In the schools mentioned in the Washington Post article on the maps of the Middle East, there is no word for Israel. That whole section is called Palestine. Because that didn't belong to anybody except Allah.

Ladies and Gentlemen: This is a religious struggle we are involved in. It is a clash of cultures. It is a clash of opposing points of view. It is a clash of different ideologies. And we need to understand what we're dealing with and how to deal with it.

I would submit to you several things in closing of what can be done because I think there are some things. First of all, I applaud our president. He has taken forthright action against terrorists. He's identified the terrorists. He's made it clear we will go after terrorists and deal with them. And I think as it says in the Archives Building, "Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty." And we as Americans must be diligent.

The second thing I believe we need to do is to support insurgencies in Iraq and Iran. The Iranian people are tired of a theocratic rule under the Ayatollahs. They want to be free. The women want to be free. They want to have a chance to live a normal life, and if we play that right, there will be insurgencies against that theocracy that is controlling the country and ruining it.

As far as Iraq, we've missed two opportunities to get him. We should have gotten Sadaam Hussein after the Gulf War. We had him on the run with the Republican Guard and we missed a golden opportunity. In the Clinton Administration a CIA agent told me we had an insurgency going in Iraq that would have taken out Sadaam Hussein but that on orders of Bill Clinton and Anthony Lake they were told to stand down. The United States would not support it. We could have won that.

The last thing I think we need to do is to go to war with Iraq because it will be perceived in the Arab world as an attack on Muslim people by the United States and it will not be won.

But there needs to be a targeted action against Sadaam Hussein himself because he is a source of terror. Just like the Hezbollah is funded by Iran and through Syria so also Iraq is a source of terror and deadly terror with biological, nuclear and chemical warfare.

The next thing that I recommend is that we shut off the flow of hostile immigration in the United States. We cannot let people who are our avowed enemies come in and enjoy the privileges of citizenship in this country. There has to be some stop at our borders. Our borders are very porous and there has to be some control over who comes in as students and who comes in, in whatever capacity.

The next thing that is very important is that we dramatically build up our counterintelligence capability with the authority to bring to justice known terrorist operatives. The CIA was literally gutted during Stanfield Turner's administration under Jimmy Carter. And subsequently, according to Robert Baer who wrote a book called See No Evil, the leading politicians wanted to keep this business under the rug. They did not want to bring the American people the terror that was building in the Middle East because it wasn't politically advantageous to do so. So the CIA has become complicit in allowing these things to happen. We must have so-called human intelligence on the ground in the Middle East and other parts of the world. And we are sadly lacking in our intelligence-gathering capabilities. And these people have got to have the authority to bring to justice known terrorist operatives.

The next thing we need to do is implement port security as a federal priority.

Another thing that is needed is a crash program to provide computer redundancy and fail-safe mechanisms against cyber terror, which may be the other thing that they are going to do as well. If they could disrupt the computer systems that deal with our financial networks, our bank computers and our intelligence gathering computers, we would be in a very serious way. We need redundancy and we need fail-safe mechanisms that I doubt are totally in place right now.

And from my standpoint, above all, we as a nation as vulnerable as we are in a free country, we need to humbly come before Almighty God and acknowledge our sins and ask for His mercy and ask for His protection. He has graciously protected us since the War of 1812. America has prospered and flourished because God has put a hedge of protection around us. This has been a special country to Him. It's been a land of His choosing. And we need as a people to turn from the way we're going and to acknowledge His sovereignty and to humbly beseech Him for protection from what may be coming from those who are our enemies and those who wish to destroy us. And then by God's grace and by the united action of all of us, this great country is going to overcome whatever terrorism is coming against it. We may have some hits in various places that will be very painful. But we are not going to succumb to terror. We're not going to knuckle under to terror. We are going to win the battle against terror, and we'll come out of this together and stronger. And I hope and pray that out of some difficult days that may be ahead of us we can once again say, as we do in our pledge of allegiance, we are part of "one nation under God." Thank you very much.

Pat Robertson. The Roots of Terrorism and a Strategy for Victory. 3/25/02

The Haunted Superpower

The world's only superpower is haunted by a fear of weakness. From psychiatric experience with individuals we know that underneath expressions of megalomania and claims to omnipotence there tend to be profound feelings of powerlessness and emptiness. Feelings on that order may affect our leader's projections of world control. These could take the form of fear of the political fragmentation of our society, with accompanying death anxiety related not just to 9/11 but to the potential collapse of the superpower entity itself. Underneath our leaders' arrogant certainties concerning the world, there may lie profound doubts about our own social and national integration, about America's control of itself. Fear of being out of control can lead to the most aggressive efforts at total control of everyone else.

Helping to overcome such fear is the claim to transcendent American virtue, to providing beneficent and liberating service to the world. That sense of a mission both altruistic and sacred can generate a surge of power that, in turn, suppresses feelings of powerlessness and weakness.

Fear of weakness is, of course, bound up with related feelings, of vulnerability, with a superpower's sense of being a very visible target, and with its unrealizable requirement of omnipotence. The world's only superpower has become a target not just because it is so dominant but because its recent policies and attitudes, emerging from superpower syndrome, have antagonized just about everyone. Its unrealizable omnipotence has caused its leaders to embark on an aggressive quest for absolute security via domination, which is another form of entrapment in infinity.

Former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, coming out in support of the Bush administration, made a case for invading Iraq based on a principle of "ultimate national security." But as the political scientist David C. Hendrickson pointed out at the time, Kissinger seemed to have forgotten his own earlier criticism of the "absolute security", sought by revolutionary powers, noting then that "the desire of one power for absolute security means absolute insecurity for all the others." In this sense and in the way that the present administration has sought to overthrow world diplomatic procedures and restraints on war-making, the United States has certainly become a "revolutionary power" in pursuit of absolute security and absolute invulnerability. But the fear of weakness will not go away.
Superpower Syndrome

In speaking of superpower syndrome, I mean to suggest a harmful disorder. I use this medical association to convey psychological and political abnormality. I also wish to emphasize a confluence of behavior patterns: in any syndrome there is not just a single tendency but a constellation of tendencies. Though each can be identified separately, they are best understood as manifestations of an overarching dynamic that controls the behavior of the larger system, in this case the American national entity.

The dynamic takes shape around a bizarre American collective mindset that extends our very real military power into a fantasy of cosmic control, a mindset all too readily tempted by an apocalyptic mission. The symptoms are of a piece, each consistent with the larger syndrome: unilateralism in all-important decisions, including those relating to war-making; the use of high technology to secure the ownership of death and of history; a sense of entitlement concerning the right to identify and destroy all those considered to be terrorists or friends of terrorists, while spreading "freedom" and virtues seen as preeminently ours throughout the world; the right to decide who may possess weapons of mass destruction and who may not, and to take military action, using nuclear weapons if necessary, against any nation that has them or is thought to be manufacturing them; and underlying these symptoms, a righteous vision of ridding the world of evil and purifying it spiritually and politically.

We are talking about a serious syndrome, one that is profoundly harmful, even fatal, to the national body it inhabits as well as to the world in which that body lives...

Robert Jay Lifton. Superpower Syndrome: America's Apocalyptic Confrontation with the World. Thunder's Mouth Press, 2003. pp 178-80, 187-8.

The planes to the left and right of where we stand here represent the unmatched air power of the United States. (Applause.) But that's not our real strength. Our real strength are the people who fly them, and who maintain them, the people who make the military go. (Applause.) The real strength of this proud nation are the men and women who wear the uniform. That's the real strength of this country. (Applause.)

You're among the first to be deployed in America's new war against terror and against evil, and I want you to know, America is proud -- proud of your deeds, proud of your talents, proud of your service to our country.

I'm told that one of the pilots here, a fellow named Randy, was asked if anyone at Travis had personal connections to any of the victims of the attacks on September the 11th. And here's what he said: I think we all do; they're all Americans. (Applause.) When you strike one American, you strike us all. (Applause.)

The victims of September 11th were innocent, and this nation will never forget them. The men and women who murdered them were instruments of evil, and they have died in vain. This nation is strong. This nation is united. This nation is resolved. This nation will defeat terror wherever we find it across the globe. (Applause.)

And not only will we find the terrorists, we will enforce the doctrine that says if you harbor a terrorist, you're a terrorist. (Applause.) If you feed a terrorist, if you fund a terrorist, you're a terrorist. And this great, proud nation of free men and women will hold you just as responsible for the actions that take place on American soil. (Applause.)

And that's what's happening in Afghanistan. I gave the people in Afghanistan a choice. I said to the Taliban, turn them over, destroy the camps, free people you're unjustly holding. I said, you've got time to do it. But they didn't listen. They didn't respond, and now they're paying a price. (Applause.) They are learning that anyone who strikes America will hear from our military, and they're not going to like what they hear. (Applause.) In choosing their enemy, the evildoers and those who harbor them have chosen their fate.

We don't quarrel with the innocent folks of Afghanistan; they're not our enemy. Nor is any religion the enemy of the United States of America. The evil ones have tried to hijack a religion to justify their murder. But I want to assure the people of the world that our military fights not against Muslims or fights not against the Islam religion; we fight against evil people. We fight against people who believe that they can harm the United States of America. We fight against people who have no country, no ideology; they're motivated by hate.

And make no mistake about it; this great nation will do what it takes to win. We are determined. We are patient. We are steadfast. We are resolved. We will not tire and we will not fail. (Applause.)

And we're making progress. We're making progress. The terrorist camps are being destroyed. The enemy's air force and air defenses are being demolished. We're paving the way for friendly troops on the ground to slowly, but surely, tighten the net to bring them to justice.

I can't tell you how proud as Commander-in-Chief I am to know that we've got a great United States military backing our nation. (Applause.) A Commander-in-Chief must know he can count on the skill and resolve of our military. And from Secretary Rumsfeld to General Myers to the good troops of this base, I have all the confidence in the world that our military will fulfill its mission. (Applause.)

And you must have confidence in this, my commitment: that for the mission that lies ahead, our military, the men and women who wear our uniform, will have everything you need to win -- (applause) -- every resource, every weapon, every means to assure full victory for the United States and our allies and our friends in the cause of freedom. (Applause.)

There is no question that we're inflicting pain upon the Taliban government. There is also no question that we're a compassionate nation; at the same time we do so, we're dropping airlifts of food and medicine, so the innocent citizens of that country can survive the brutal winter.

As I walked up, I saw some of the schoolchildren here holding dollar bills. We've got schoolchildren all across the country out raising a dollar to send to the children of Afghanistan. We've got boys and girls from all religions and all walks of life who have heard the call to love a neighbor just as they'd like to be loved themselves.

The evildoers have struck our nation, but out of evil comes good. We are a good, kind-hearted, decent people, and we're showing the world just that in our compassion and our resolve. (Applause.)

And one thing I fully understand is that when American forces answer the call of duty, they count on their families for support and encouragement. Every deployment brings uncertainty and, I know, every deployment brings worry and concern. Our military is made up of brave men and women, and brave families, as well.

Recently, a four-year-old son of a cargo specialist said good-bye to his Dad here at Travis. And according to his Mom, the boy has been telling the neighbors that "Daddy is saving the world." (Applause.)

The boy is right. The boy is right. The future of the world is at stake. Freedom is at stake. But I want to tell that boy his Daddy has got plenty of help. There are a lot of people like his Daddy fighting this war. We fight it overseas and we fight it at home, as well.

We must be steadfast. We must be resolved. We must not let the terrorists cause our nation to stop traveling, to stop buying, to stop living ordinary lives. We can be alert and we will be alert, but we must show them that they cannot terrorize the greatest nation on the face of the Earth. And we won't. We will not be terrorized, we will not be cowed.

We've got a homeland security that's strong. I want to tell the moms and dads here that we're doing everything we can to find them and disrupt them and stop them, if they happen to try to strike on American soil. We're strong at home. We're active at home. But make no mistake about it; the best homeland defense is to find them and bring them to justice -- and that's exactly what our nation will do. (Applause.)

Now that they got the plane fueled up, I'm heading over to China. Of course, we'll talk about economics and trade. But the main thing that will be on my mind is to continue to rally the world against terrorists; is to remind people that it happened to us, sure, but it could happen to them, as well; is to remind them that evil knows no borders, no boundaries, and to remind them that we must take a stand; that those of us who have been given the responsibility of high office must not shirk from our duty; that now is the time to claim freedom for future generations.

The people have struck us. They've tested our mettle and tested our character. But they are going to find that this nation understands we've reached a pivotal moment in history, where we will plant our flag on the ground -- a flag that stands for freedom -- and say to anybody who wants to harm us or our friends or allies, you will pay a serious price, because we're a nation that is strong and resolved and united. (Applause.)

You all are here to serve your country, and your country is grateful. You have confidence in America. But make no mistake about it; America has confidence in you.

Thank you all for such a warm greeting. May God bless -- (applause) -- may God bless the men and women who wear our uniform. May God protect this great land. And may God bless America. Thank you all very much. (Applause.)

George W. Bush. President Rallies Troops at Travis Air Force Base. 10/17/01

It's So Obvious

Stumbled upon The Top 10 Conservative Idiots website where I came across this:

...it was revealed last week by The New Republic that the Bush administration has been trying to arrange the capture of a top Al Qaeda chief in Pakistan - specifically timed to have an effect on the upcoming election. Yup, it's long been suspected that the administration will have an "October Surprise" up its filthy sleeve but there was no evidence - until now. TNR reported that the administration "significantly increased its pressure" on Pakistan to capture bin Laden or another "high value target" (HVT). Which is fine - except that the Bushies insisted it should happen before November. For example, a Pakistani security official told TNR that they had "been told at every level that apprehension or killing of HVTs before [the] election is [an] absolute must." Not only that, but a White House official apparently told Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence director that "it would be best if the arrest or killing of [any] HVT were announced on twenty-six, twenty-seven, or twenty-eight July." That's right in the middle of the Democratic National Convention. And what does Pakistan get in return for pulling Osama out of a hat at just the right moment? According to TNR, "During his March visit to Islamabad, [Colin] Powell designated Pakistan a major non-NATO ally, a status that allows its military to purchase a wider array of U.S. weaponry. Powell pointedly refused to criticize Musharraf for pardoning nuclear physicist A.Q. Khan - who, the previous month, had admitted exporting nuclear secrets to Iran, North Korea, and Libya... In addition, the administration is pushing a five-year, $3 billion aid package for Pakistan through Congress over Democratic concerns about the country's proliferation of nuclear technology and lack of democratic reform." So there you have it folks - this administration is perfectly happy to turn a blind eye to a Pakistan's nuclear proliferation, provided they get at least one big name terrorist delivered at a politically expedient moment. And Bush is supposed to be making us safer?

Does anybody seriously doubt that BushCo won't stoop to anything to stay in power? That they aren't going to leave, no matter what? That they have no respect for democracy? That they are incapable of entertaining any ideas that don't fit into their groupthink? That they will do whatever they want, fuck the consequences, and fuck whatever anybody says? That God Himself ordained BushCo to power, and thus they have a Holy Mandate to fulfill His Will? That there won't be an election in America this year, and probably for a long time to come?