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dhs advisory
Terror Alert Level


'Well Said!' Quote of the Day

"Imperial overreach is the classic condition of an empire's decline. The fact that this is known, and that hubris is as famous a fatal flaw as impatience, does not seem to matter. Knowledge of history provides no vaccine against its repetition."

     — William Thorsell

An 'Election' Day Scenario

This is Wayne Madsen's take on what will occur on "election" day:

The right wing had a different take on the possibility of an election postponement. Neo-fascist babble mongers like Rush Limbaugh said, “No!” to a postponement of the election. They argued that if a terrorist alert or attack were to occur, the election should go on and only those votes cast should be counted. Bingo! The plan for a second Bush administration became clear as day. And that plan's target is California, with its whopping 54 electoral votes, and possibly Washington State’s 11 electoral votes, at stake.
Here’s the scenario we must be all be prepared for:

If the pre-election internal tracking polls and public opinion polls show the Kerry-Edwards ticket leading in key battleground states, the Bush team will begin to implement their plan to announce an imminent terrorist alert for the West Coast for November 2 sometime during the mid afternoon Pacific Standard Time. At 2:00 PST, the polls in Kentucky and Indiana will be one hour from closing (5:00 PM EST – the polls close in Indiana and Kentucky at 6:00 PM EST). Exit polls in both states will be known to the Bush people by that time and if Kentucky (not likely Indiana) looks too close to call or leaning to Kerry-Edwards, the California plan will be implemented. A Bush problem in Kentucky at 6:00 PM EST would mean that problems could be expected in neighboring states and that plans to declare a state of emergency in California would begin in earnest at 3:00 PM PST.

The U.S. Northern Command, which has military jurisdiction over the United States, will, along with the Department of Homeland Security and Schwarzenegger’s police and homeland security officials in Sacramento, declare an “imminent” terrorist threat – a RED ALERT -- affecting California’s major urban areas.
With an hour to go before polls close on the West Coast and the region enmeshed in a major terrorist alert with cops and National Guardsmen now adding to the mix and possibly closing roads and delaying traffic to the polling places, Bush’s team in Washington and Sacramento would be poised to deliver the death blow to Kerry-Edwards.
That is what all this talk about a terrorist attack on Election Day is about. It is to prime the population and allow Bush surrogates at Fox News, CNN, and MS-NBC to begin their perception management campaign that an attack will occur around the election. But there will be no postponement of the election or cancellation – this is simply another plan to manipulate the public through the use of phony threats and fear tactics. The problem is that it just might work for Bush and his cabal of “the ends justify the means” manipulators.

I do not think this is what will happen — for one thing, I think it's too risky and subtle for BushCo. This plan relies on finesse, fine-planning, and good timing — none of which BushCo is good at. BushCo cottons to the "Big Lie" scenarios, because they make up in blatant in-your-face chutzpah what they lack in imagination. Plus they prefer a rigged game in which the outcome cannot be left to chance. There's too much wiggle room in Madsen's California plan, too many things that can go wrong in this scenario.

I think there will either be a red-level alert shortly before (or even on) "election" day, based upon the latest "credible intelligence", that will serve as the excuse for postponement; or, worst case, there will be an actual event, whether engineered by BushCo or not, that will trigger either a postponement, or which can be exploited to serve as an effective campaign strategy (should they permit an election to continue).

Nonetheless I just wanted to share the thoughts of one pundit whom I respect. The meme about the next election's proleptic invalidity is definitely spreading.

[Thanks to an email from mrk for alerting me to this article.]

[And no, I have not returned from hiatus yet. I just wanted to share this.]


Variations on a Theme Played on the Black Keys

All from the World Socialist Web Site, so salt to taste:

The NYT and the Threat to Cancel the November Election

Bush Administration Takes Steps to Cancel US Election

Media Suppresses News of Bush's Moves to Cancel US Elections

Washington Post Calls Bush Moves to Postpone US elections "Appropriate"

Washington Weighs Terror's impact on Presidential Vote

With a Finale performed by a Guest Artist [via Break for News]:

Terrorist Warnings Just Another Way Bush Will Steal Election

[Just a final offering until my return. Once again (yet again, shamelessly) a refresher for those who want it.]


Until Later

It is with deep regret that I must go on a hiatus. As I am still a relunctant citizen of Wealth Bondage, in a variety of unappetizing ways, certain demands on my life and time require immediate and indefinite attention; and since time is a zero-sum game that demands the account balance I must make a withdrawal from here to deposit there.

I look very forward to returning — hopefully sooner than later.

A heartfelt Thank You! to my blogging peers for one of the richest and most rewarding experiences of my life. I know that I shall return, since I already feel an emptiness that I know I'll have to replenish.



Neoliberalism and the Demise of Democracy

Wow. Must Read. Says it all, and says it succinctly. Go Here Now.
[via Bill C of Thoughts on the Eve of the Apocalypse at American Samizdat — Thanks!]


When Did You Stop Beating Your Wife?

It's not what you say, it's how you frame it. Goebbels understood this. So did Orwell. And so does BushCo.

Excerpt from an Interview with linguist George Lakoff [via Net Politik]:

A lot of liberals believe that the facts will set you free. It's in our inheritance from the enlightenment. Where, in the enlightenment that everybody is a rational person, all you have to do is just tell them the facts, they'll reason to the right conclusion. It's false.

And the Republicans have learned that it's false. They've set up a frame, they set up a narrative, and they set it up in terms of their values. And they get it as part of normal, everyday language and normal everyday thought.

Once they've done that, the facts are irrelevant unless the Democrats can learn to re-frame the issues from their point of view, and then make the facts fit other frames.
Luntz [Frank Luntz, Republican pollster and opinion researcher] puts out a little workbook every year or so. And last year in his section on the environment, he said something very interesting.

He said that on global warming, the Democrats have the science on their side, but we can win with language. What we need to do is use words environmentalists like, like "healthy," "clean," and "safe."

Now what that does is each word like that evokes a frame. But what they do is they evoke frames that are the opposite of what they know they mean. These are sort of Orwellian frames. These are ways to manipulate the public.

So whenever you hear an Orwellian term like "Clear Skies Act" or "Compassionate Conservative," means they know they're weak on something. And what you have to do is rename it. Rename it to fit the truth.

It is the Dirty Air Act. It is the Forest Destruction Act.

Of course this is obvious to those of us who understand critical thinking. But what hope is there for a society when a citizenry is denied an education that allows such thinking (no less a social apparatus that seeks to hinder it in general)? Democracy is reduced to nothing more than a contest between forces that become increasingly adept at framing language to manipulate understanding, rather than using language as a vessel for clear and honest communication to foster understanding. It's the cognitive version of subtly coercive salesmanship; it's political dissembling and subterfuge scientifically honed for maximal social control on an easily duped populace. And that ain't democracy, in my humble opinion.

First 'Red-Alert' Poll

Here's a chart that compares Bush's approval numbers to the timeline of terror alerts [via Pierrot's Folly]. It seems that the Department of Homeland Security's Threat Advisory level just coincidentally gets warmer during holidays, dips in Bush's poll numbers, and news cycles ill-favored to BushCo.

Since BushCo will stop at nothing to keep their power, and now that they have this wonderfully effective, general, and arbitrary tool for instituting alarm, insecurity and fear in the populace, you can bet they're going to use it as another tool in their arsenal to maintain their hold on power.

But when?

We haven't had a "Severe" (ie, red level) warning yet. They're saving that for some special day. And what day could be more special than election day? especially considering how the Spanish election earlier this year was affected by a terrorist attack (even though it wasn't necessarily the attack itself, but the government's pathetic lies that affected the outcome)? Wouldn't it provide a wonderfully convenient excuse to (indefinitely) "postpone" the election?

I originally wanted to organize a pool for this (a la Poindexter's DARPA) but that was too creepy. Instead I've added a poll to my sidebar. The question is simply:

When will the Department of Homeland Security issue its first "Severe" [ie, red level] Threat Advisory?

Just curious what other people think about it.

How Dear Leader Made Know-Nothing Forever Safe

How Dear Leader Made Know-Nothing Forever Safe
(A Murkan Fairy Tale)

Once upon a time in the land of Know-Nothing there lived a lot of happy peasants who drove Big Cars and watched Big-Screen TVs. Things were very good there, so long as no one asked anything, especially where their Big Cars and Big-Screen TVs came from.

One day Know-Nothing's High Priests in Black Robes decided they needed a new Ruler, and so they chose a lad who was born with a magic silver spoon in his mouth. This magic silver spoon conferred upon him the wondrous ability to never make mistakes. He was dubbed "Dear Leader" and the people were told not to complain. And the good peasants of Know-Nothing happily complied, because they could continue to drive their Big Cars and watch their Big-Screen TVs.

Dear Leader wasn't the smartest ruler they'd ever had. And he wasn't the bravest either. In fact, many wrong-minded trouble-makers grumbled about him. But the good people of Know-Nothing ignored them and went about their merry way.

Then one day something terrible happened. Know-Nothing was attacked by the mean people of Evilville — for no reason at all! That's just how evil the people of Evilville were!

Many innocent peasants were killed.

The people were afraid — nothing like this had ever happened in their land before. And so they turned to Dear Leader to protect them.

The attack magically transformed Dear Leader into a smart and brave ruler, which comforted the scared and confused people of Know-Nothing.

Dear Leader, who was now smart and brave, decided to attack the evil people of Standinia. Some of the wrong-headed trouble-makers grumbled that Standinia had nothing to do with Evilville. But Dear Leader said that attacking Standinia would make the people of Know-Nothing safer, and the peasants told the wrong-headed trouble-makers to be quiet. After all, the people of Standinia looked an awful lot like the people of Evilville, and somebody had to pay for what Evilville had done to the peasants of Know-Nothing.

After killing and raping many of the old and young evildoers of Standinia Dear Leader smartly and bravely taunted them further by saying "Bring it On!" before killing and torturing many more of their evil old and young people.

And somehow, because Dear Leader never made a mistake, Know-Nothing was made safe once again, and was nevermore attacked. And the peasants continued to drive their Big Cars and watch their Big-Screen TVs.

And, what's more, even the people of Standinia were happy too! They were grateful to Dear Leader because he had ridded them of their evil young and old people. The people of Standinia could now drive Big Cars and watch Big-Screen TVs too — just like the good people of Know-Nothing.

And so everyone was safer and lived happily ever after — thanks to Dear Leader!


A Scientist Ostracises Murka

I will not at this point correspond with any american institution. Some of us have lived through 1939.
What we are watching today, I believe, is a culmination of 10-15 years of mounting barbarism of the American culture the world over, crowned by the achievements of science and technology as a major weapon of mass destruction. We are witnessing man hunt and wanton killing of the type and scale not seen since the raids on American Indian populations, by a superior technological power of inferior culture and values. We see no corrective force to restore the insanity, the self-righteousness and the lack of respect for human life (civilian and military) of another race.
In desperation I cannot but turn my attention to other tragic periods in which major societies, some with claims to fundamental contributions to culture and science, have deviated so far as to be relegated to ostracism and quarantine. At this point I think American society should be considered in this category. I have no illusions of power, as to the scope and prospect of my attitude.

But, the minor role of my act and statement is a simple way of affirming that in the face of a growing enormity which I consider intolerable, I will exercise my own tiny act of disobedience to be able to look straight into the eyes of my grandchildren and my students and say that I did know.

Interchange of letters between Prof. Daniel Amit and an American scientific journal

[via Harry via Tutor]

Bush Speaks Truth to Thralldom

Bush actually utters the truth!

Our enemies are innovative and resourceful, and so are we. They never stop thinking about new ways to harm our country and our people, and neither do we.

Happy Fuzzy Bunny

Things have a been a little intense lately. I'd like to help Rick — and all of us — feel a little better. Not everything is bad — there's still sunshine and rainbows.

Here's a happy story to go with it.

Because 2004 is 20 Years Too Late

Students for an Orwellian Society [via the excellent Net Politik]:

Students for an Orwellian Society (SOS) is a nationwide student group. Although SOS has always been a nationwide student group, there is evidence to suggest that it first appeared at Columbia University. The mission of SOS is to promote the vision of a society based upon the principles of Ingsoc, first articulated by George Orwell in his prophetic novel, 1984.
As to be expected, SOS has been quite successful. Since the events of 11 September, we have been able to convince a number of figures in national and local politics to help forward our aims. How could they do otherwise?

When in Rome Oceania...


Welcome to San Salvador, NYC

From one of my favorite columnists, George Monbiot [via Public Domain Progress]:

A similar clampdown is taking place all over the world. The US Patriot Act, passed by Congress before any representative had read it, allows the state to treat dissenting citizens as if they were members of Al Qaida. For the past three years, the European Union has been seeking to reclassify the protesters who travel to European gatherings as terrorists. This is the contract the powerful have struck with each other: to agree to a single set of neoliberal policies, and to criminalise all those who seek to challenge them.

We are often told that the passage of laws like this is dangerous because one day it might facilitate the seizure of power by an undemocratic government. But that is to miss the point. Their passage IS the seizure of power. Protest is inseparable from democracy: every time it is restricted, the state becomes less democratic. Democracies like ours will come to an end not with the stamping of boots and the hoisting of flags, but through the slow accretion of a thousand dusty codicils.

This was the front page picture in one of Toronto's papers yesterday. This is how other countries now see America. A paramilitary NYPD officer protects the Stock Exchange (how fitting!), a heavy-duty automatic weapon cradled in his arms. Giant Murkan flags, reminiscent of other infamous standards, fill the background. I couldn't believe my eyes: even though I knew I'd see such pictures someday I wasn't prepared for the jolt I felt. Welcome to San Salvador, NYC.

People wonder where America is heading. But it's already there. The train has arrived — it's just going to take a while to unload the cargo and assemble it into something unmistakably recognizable.

Though the tune is faint and vague, the dirge has begun. Soon the plaintive refrain will sound in the brass...

(American's new anthem: Shostakovich's Symphony #10, 1st & 2nd movement.)


A Lesson in Socratic Dialogue from The Tutor

An exemplary example of excellent minds employing The Socratic Method via blogging. Blogging doesn't get any better than this.

A Challenge to The Tutor

Tutor, of all the circular firing squad tactics that the left falls into, the way you sometimes heap contempt upon fledgling attempts to change things from the bottom up strikes me as among the most annoying. There is certainly a place for excellence and heirarchy, but mostly that operates at the local level. The challenge that the left faces is that what we are having to embrace a more scalable approach than has ever been accomplished. The reason heirarchy and socially constructed versions of excellence work so well for the right is that they don't give a damn about excluding losers who are of no use to them (or even more, manipulating losers who are useful). If you are talking about a single organization, I'm all for hierarchy and excellence, but we are dealing with the realities of a winner-take-all market whenever we approach a global or even national scale. There are a lot of first rate intellectuals from second rate universities who aren't in that conversation, but they can participate in conversations in blogosphere. Who cares about whether those conversations are noticed by very many people? They matter to those who are having them, especially if, like you and I both, they live in a Red State and might not be having that kind of conversation otherwise. And the thing is that that is precisely what is most revolutionary about blogs. If the sea change that that is were more visible, it wouldn't be nearly as robust. I have always assumed that the main reason people link to each other was because they expected that the favor would be returned. That can get a little out of hand, but it is amazing some of the bloggers I have been able to find precisely because of the utterly nonhierarchical, six-degrees-seperation nature of this environment.

The Tutor Responds

Thanks, John, I more agree than not. All versions of excellence are socially constructed, but so are all versions of mediocrity and mass culture. Both good and bad taste are socially constructed. Both indignation and complacency. Both effrontery and modesty. What isn't socially constructed? Even genes. I do agree about lateral connections, inclusiveness, and not being overly judgemental. I agree that the great pulsating blogsphere has helped many of us, certainly it has helped me, find an audience, make new friends, and hook up for good causes. I also think we need civilized ways to introduce criticism not of right by left or left by right, but of ourselves and our friends. To assume that the masses, or our peers, are capable only of stupidity and so feed it to them is patronizing. That tone that rankles you so, is a goad. A teacher's tool. When the blood rushes to your brain it irrigates it and stimulates fresh thought. Note that this elitist discourse comes from a broken man, a self-educated prostitute, a bondage dom to the rich, who lives in a dumpster. That persona is not coincidental, nor adventitious. How does one make a plea for excellence except from behind a madman's mask, while disguising it as pornography, the most accessible of genres? The successful could care less about excellence, they want profit. They read bromides and best sellers. The left wants body warmth, mutual love, and little ineffective identity cliques. The views presented here are consistant, at least as paradox, but poorly represented in public discourse. Cruel, moralistic, difficult and egalitarian. Neither the right's tough Daddy nor the left's weepy Nanny. Not your politically correct discourse and not your right wing hooha. It really is patterned on an old synthesis, that of the Augustans, both elitist (classicist, in praise of excellence) and the harbinger of the American Revolution. How much do you want me to back off - in your case? How much? Zero, I imagine. We should drive each other to our respective limits, or else sit like cows chewing our cud. Those are my half-finished views. Mr. Minim would be more mild. I appreciate your taking the time to comment and I hope you will set me straight. Excellence is a sharp tool and cuts both ways. I have probably injured myself in this post, and will soon feel faint from loss of blood. Thanks.

[These are comments from within this source post.]

Warning Sign #3180 of the Coming Apocalypse

         Playmobil Item #3180

—Boy, this sarin sure is sticky stuff!
—Hey! There's PCBs over here! C'mon — we gotta hurry before it hits the water table!
—Can't — after we clean up all this sarin we gotta get to the nursing home where that botulism was attacking the old people, remember?
—Bioremediation sure is fun!