Debs '08 again
  • londo

Werther's Law

Or Joe Biden and the Iron Law of Adverse Political Selection
by Werther

Why do politicians make disastrous decisions with the consistency of iron filings obeying a magnet? Decisions that in retrospect (and frequently in prospect) seem doomed to failure? After 9/11, did it make any sense when, after coming close to the point of capturing Osama bin Laden, the U.S. government began pulling troops, materiel, and intelligence assets away from the hunt in order to invade a country that had nothing to do with Osama?
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Making serious mistakes, or even pursuing disastrous policies, are no impediment to one's career moving onward and upward. "Failing upward" (known cynically in Washington as "f*ck up and move up") is an occurrence as frequent in Washington as the common cold. How else to explain Paul Wolfowitz's horrific tenure at the Department of Defense being rewarded with a plum job as president of the World Bank, where he could make further business contacts that would keep him well-paid even after he failed in that job? It is no sin to be incompetent; it is a sin to be competent and diligent in one's job if it involves blowing the whistle on malfeasance in one's organization. The fate of whistleblowers in the Bush administration is abundant evidence of this. No one with a mortgage likes to be demoted, fired, or blackballed from future employment.

As the oligarchy metastasizes, it penetrates and transforms other governmental and non-governmental organizations, including those intended to serve as watchdogs. Congress ceases to oversee military spending, because every weapon system is built in somebody's district. The media hires "news analysts" straight out of the White House and "military analysts" whose explicit understanding of their jobs is to present wars in the best possible light.
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Original article
h/t dirkcjelli
(Dirk also runs a quality political blog at , which 5E types may dig.)
Moons and stars
  • londo

The intersection of psychology and politics

I've just read one of the more compelling points I've seen in a long time. The following is an excerpt from an A Finer World response to some comments by David Brin. Emphasis mine, but not too different from the original:

Before I can tell you more about this disease, we should review some famous and recent psychological experiments which deal with how ordinary people deal with certain circumstances. In particular, I’m thinking of the work of Milgram and Zimbardo, as well as recent fMRI work by Sam Harris et al. (caution, pdf). Milgram conducted research into how people respond to authority. In his most famous experiment, under the guise of working as lab assistants studying the impact of pain on learning, subjects were led to deliver progressively greater electric shocks to another individual. Zimbardo conducted another experiment in authority. Individuals were assigned roles as either prisoners or guards. Once given such roles, they behaved in a manner most succinctly describable today as “like Abu Garaib.” Harris indicated that people find it very difficult to question statements they believe to be true, that different brain areas are involved in belief and disbelief, and that it takes less time to evaluate a statement we hold to be true than one we believe to be false.

If most ordinary people were exchanged with the guards who ‘just followed orders’ at Dachau, or Auschwitz, we know now that they would act in much the same way. Every-day evil is a product of environment, though that is not the same as saying that these people aren’t sick—they’ve simply been made sick by their environment. (Sick in the sense that we define mental illness in terms of behavior we find incompatible with accepted societal values.) From Harris, we may add that if they already believed in the authorities in question, in that case the German government, they cannot be counted upon to reliably evaluate whether that authority is just; they’re too invested in that system of belief. To evaluate that system would require a conscious effort on the part of those who were already a part of it.

It follows that the systems by which we arrange ourselves, the authorities we agree will govern our behavior, are critically important if we wish to see a change in results. If you take completely ordinary people and tell them that authority says you are legally and morally obligated to maximize profits to maximize shareholder value, that this is what everyone does, and that those who are opposed to this system are wicked and evil and it is for the greater good that sometimes this system has problems… it stands to reason ordinary people can do terrible things. Suppress information about the dangers of smoking. Enforce slave-like conditions. Pollute the environment. Produce products which break, requiring replacement. Deny healthcare. Arrange surveillance to break strikes. Have labor organizers harassed, and perhaps even killed.

Full article (which is generally worth reading) can be found here.
Slammy evil

The best CDs of 2007, pt. 1

It was a pretty good year in music. A handful of artists produced absolutely fabulous CDs and a lot more managed releases ranging from "worth the money" to "are you sure that shouldn't be rated a little higher"?

Here's the format. Instead of the tedious task of actually ranking CDs - a torture I used to inflict on myself every year - we now have four tiers: The Slammy, awarded to the CD of the Year; the Platinum LP, awarded for superior achievement; the Gold LP, for significant achievement; and Honorable Mention, for things I bought and liked enough to keep. Today, the Gold LP winners and Honorable Mentions (presented in no particular order).

Gold LP

The National: Boxer(More...)
Slammy evil

The Scholars & Rogues Interview: Graham Parker

If there are any Graham Parker fans here, this is something you might have a look at.

The mid-1970s were a wonderful time for music lovers. For starters, exciting and innovative new music was popping up all over the place. And when it did, it actually got played on the radio.

The UK was especially fertile ground during this period, as scores of punk and New Wave bands emerged (many from the "pub rock" scene) in the most dynamic explosion of music since the British Invasion. One of the most outstanding of these was Graham Parker, who in 1976 released not one, but two instant five-star classics - Howlin' Wind and Heat Treatment.

While some of his contemporaries (most notably Elvis Costello) became wildly famous, arguably nobody in rock history has posted a more enduring legacy of critical success. In the three-plus decades since Howlin' Wind Parker has released over 25 records, and you have to be a pure hater not to give 10-15 of them at least four stars. That's a remarkable accomplishment, especially when you add to the legacy this year's Don't Tell Columbus, which is currently in the mix for a lot of best CD of the year nods (including mine), and which some reviewers have gone so far as to call his greatest CD ever. (More...)
  • dkmnow

Silencing dissent: "Balanced" is in the eye of the chokeholder...

In his excellent "No Comment" blog, Scott Horton of Harper's reports:

August 13, 7:32 AM
A Curious Incident at the Chicago Council on Global Affairs

Professors John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt, whose London Review of Books article on “the Israel Lobby” unleashed a major storm in the United States, have worked their article into a book. Farrar, Straus & Giroux, arguably the most top-drawer of all U.S. publishers, is bringing it out under the title The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy right after Labor Day. In this connection, the publisher had planned the usual tour to highlight the book, including a stop at the Chicago Council on Global Affairs.

But no. Evidently under intense, but anonymous pressure, the Council suddenly withdrew its invitation, saying that Mearsheimer and Walt could only appear if they were “balanced” by someone with a contending viewpoint...

Allow me to fill in what I know Horton meant to include:

"BAD Council! BAD! That's a BAAAAD COUNCIL!"

Mearsheimer and Walt are but a tiny fraction of the real balance that has been missing -- nay, banished -- from public discussion on Israel for decades. Had the Council honored their invitation in a manner befitting vertebrate lifeforms, it would have been a tiny step in the direction of restoring balance -- nay, sanity -- to what has long been a woefully and dangerously UNbalanced public treatment of one of the most volatile and costly sets of foreign policy issues we have to face.

Now, this is not to say that Mearsheimer and Walt are wholly unbiased in their analysis and rhetoric. But does the Israel lobby really imagine that, if a feather lights on the other side, that will somehow send their mighty elephant flying off the scales? One wonders, if their position is so unassailable, how is it that they dare not tolerate even the faintest whispering of dissent?

Or is this all just because I'm "a vile anti-Semitic"?
  • dkmnow

KARL ROVE RESIGNING -- One Down, Three To Go (at the very least)

This just in from the AP:,0,7765934.story
Karl Rove to Resign at End of August


AP White House Correspondent

6:55 AM CDT, August 13, 2007


Karl Rove, President Bush's close friend and chief political strategist, plans to leave the White House at the end of August, joining a lengthening line of senior officials heading for the exits in the final 1 1/2 years of the administration.

On board with Bush since the beginning of his political career in Texas, Rove was nicknamed "the architect" and "boy genius" by the president for designing the strategy that twice won him the White House. Critics call Rove "Bush's brain."

A criminal investigation put Rove under scrutiny for months during the investigation into the leak of a CIA operative's name but he was never charged with any crime. In a more recent controversy, Rove, citing executive privilege, has refused to testify before Congress about the firing of U.S. attorneys.

Bush was expected to make a statement Monday with Rove. Later Monday, Rove, his wife and their son were to accompany Bush on Air Force One when the president flies to Texas for his vacation.

"Obviously it's a big loss to us," White House deputy press secretary Dana Perino said. "He's a great colleague, a good friend, and a brilliant mind. He will be greatly missed, but we know he wouldn't be going if he wasn't sure this was the right time to be giving more to his family, his wife Darby and their son. He will continue to be one of the president's greatest friends."

Since Democrats won control of Congress in November, some top administration officials have announced their resignations. Among those who have left are White House counselor Dan Bartlett, budget director Rob Portman, chief White House attorney Harriet Miers, political director Sara Taylor, deputy national security adviser J.D. Crouch and Meghan O'Sullivan, another deputy national security adviser who worked on Iraq. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld was forced out immediately after the election as the unpopular war in Iraq dragged on.

Rove became one of Washington's most influential figures during Bush's presidency. He is known as a ruthless political warrior who has an encyclopedic command of political minutiae and a wonkish love of policy. Rove met Bush in the early 1970s, when both men were in their 20s.

Once inside the White House, Rove grew into a right-hand man.

Rove is expected to write a book after he leaves. He disclosed his departure in an interview with The Wall Street Journal.

He said he decided to leave after White House Chief of Staff Joshua Bolten told senior aides that if they stayed past Labor Day they would be obliged to remain through the end of the president's term in January 2009.

"I just think it's time," Rove said in an interview at this home on Saturday. He first floated the idea of leaving to Bush a year ago, the newspaper said, and friends confirmed he'd been talking about it even earlier. However, he said he didn't want to depart right after the Democrats regained control of Congress and then got drawn into policy battles over the Iraq war and immigration.

"There's always something that can keep you here, and as much as I'd like to be here, I've got to do this for the sake of my family," said Rove, who has been in the White House since Bush took office in 2001.

Rove's son attends college in San Antonio and he said he and his wife plan to spend much of their time at their nearby home in Ingram.

Rove, currently the deputy White House chief of staff, has been the president's political guru for years and worked with Bush since he first ran for governor of Texas in 1993.

Even as he discussed his departure, Rove remained characteristically sunny. This quality of unrelenting optimism about the president, which matches Bush's own upbeat, never-admit-disappointment nature, has at times gotten Rove into trouble. Up to the end of the 2006 midterm elections, the political guru predicted a Republican win. That of course was not to be, and there was grumbling that Rove wasn't on his game during those elections as much as he had been before.

In the interview, Rove predicted Bush will regain his popularity, which has sunk to record lows because of the war in Iraq.

Rove also predicted conditions in Iraq would improve and that the Democrats would nominate Hillary Rodham Clinton for president, calling her "a tough, tenacious, fatally flawed candidate."

Rove testified before a federal grand jury in the investigation into the leak of the name of Valerie Plame, a CIA officer whose husband was a critic of the war in Iraq. That investigation led to the conviction of I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby on charges of lying and obstructing justice. Plame contends the White House was trying to discredit her husband.

Attorneys for Libby told jurors at the onset of his trial that Libby was the victim of a conspiracy to protect Rove. Details of any save-Rove conspiracy were promised but never materialized.

The most explicit testimony on Rove came from columnist Robert Novak, who outed Plame in a July 2003 column. He testified that Rove, a frequent source, was one of two officials who told him about Plame. Libby, with whom he seldom spoke, was not a source.

Rove, though, was not indicted after testifying five times before the grand jury, occasionally correcting misstatements he made in his earlier testimony.

The jury in Libby's trial did not hear that testimony, nor did it hear that Rove is credited as an architect of Republican political victories and has been accused by opponents of playing dirty tricks.

All that jurors heard is that Rove leaked Plame's identity and, from the outset, got political cover from the White House. He was never charged with a crime.

You can STOP HIM NOW!!

Go to Amazon right this second and pre-order Kanye West's new CD.

"But S4S, I don't like rap, even though that 'Gold Digger' song of his was kinda catchy!"
"But S4S, I never PAY for music, and neither do you!  Why should I start now?"

The answer to both:
50 Cent and Kanye West both debut new albums on Sept. 11.  Fiddy has announced that if Kanye outsells him on that first day, he will QUIT HIS SOLO CAREER.

NEVER have ordinary people like you and me had the power to just GET RID OF ARTISTS WE FIND EXTREMELY IRRITATING!

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I personally blame Fiddy for the whole "being a crack dealer is cool" thing.  I know there were plenty of others before him but I consider him the most ostentatious and offensive.

xposted, like, everywhere.

End of Days?

Dear investors
This just in the Media conglomerate "genius" DonaldTrump just said on CNBC that if interest rates don't drop very soon wewill have a very long term Reccession effecting the entire world. Saidalso even if the Interest rates were dropped we were going to be lookinforward to "some bad times in the mid and short term" Well its veryomnious even if it isn't true is words are going to have a huge effect.
Ohyeah I almost forgot he was claiming it was because of the lack ofcredit on the market. That nobody not regular citzens or citzen of thecoporate conglomery could get credit that was cheap enough for them.This is scary because of how much debt we have we always claimed thatthe escalating natinoal debt was never going to be an issue but uhhhhwait ummmm. Yeah some body working for the state ought to start lookinginto why its a bad idea to run your credit card through the roof. Andperhaps fax that to the free market experts in the fricken oval office.

XpostedX guerillanews wallstreet