Above the Fray

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Question for Thanksgiving

This is something that can be asked about a lot of newspaper 'filler'

"Lots of people are traveling today. For some reason, even though this happens every year and we all know it happens every year, this is the lead news story everywhere - Fark"

Progressive Review

This isn't a stunning observation, just thought it was funny.. and so it goes..

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Murta's real proposal

John Murtha (D-PA) has stepped in a fire ant hill. As a backer of the Iraq war, he has now come out for withdrawal. This has the republicans really upset, since he was a hawk and one of the 'good' Democrats. [possible parallel to Johnson losing Cronkite during the Vietnam war?].

As important as this declaration is, I think his other declaration is perhaps more important in the broader picture.

...as Murtha so aptly said, 'the future of our country is at risk' and it's time to stop reaching across the aisle to a GOP that does not share our values, makes little effort to be honestly bipartisan and has no respect whatsoever for those who make such efforts...

The Blue Dog Coalition was created in 1995 and came about to promote positions "...which bridge the gap between ideological extremes" according to their House web site. "Many of the group's policy proposals have been praised as fair, responsible, and positive additions to a Congressional environment too often marked as partisan and antagonistic," say the Blue Dogs in their mission statement.

Time for Blue Dog Democrats in House to disband

What I hope he is declaring is 'no more Mr, Appeasement', no more dealing with the Bullys [sic], as if they play by the same rules.

Since the 90's, the leadership of the Republican party has allowed Bullys to take over. Since 2000, this leadership has controlled the mechanisms of our government and nation.

This initial phase of defense [dealing, denying, disbelief, deferring, wishing will make it so...] against Bully behavior has gone on just a bit too long.

John Murtha is signaling that we need to go to phase 2: Declaring that the game is up.

As Murtha is/was a hawk, and is a conservative leaning Democrat this may be a tipping point. I hope more citizens [conservative and liberal] begin to declare the same thing.

Then we can get to phase 3: Driving the SOBullys out.

All together now:

"I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take this any more! [Howard Beale, Network (1976)]

Note: When I use the term 'Bully', I am not referring to the ordinary cartoon of a thug. I am using it as short hand for clinical, but functional Personality Disorder[s]. ie. Borderline, Narcissistic, Antisocial, and/or Paranoid.

I suggest a visit to the Bully Online web site. This is one of the most comprehensive collections of resources on work place bullying. The information here is very dense [might say wordy] so I have abstracted some of it. The data fit isn't exact since I am extending his model to group behavior, but I will let you decide if there is any congruence.

What is bullying?
The common objective of these offenders is power, control, domination and subjugation..[Or as I say PMSS]

Some characteristics [This is the short list!]:

Jekyll & Hyde nature

Constantly imposing on others a false reality made up of distortion and fabrication

Compulsive liar [convincing, practised] and when called to account, will make up anything spontaneously to fit their needs at that moment

Displays a great deal of certitude and self-assuredness [arrogance]
much controlling behaviour and is a control freak

Self-opinionated and displays arrogance, audacity, a superior sense of entitlement and sense of invulnerability and untouchability

Narcissistic need to portray themselves as a wonderful, kind, caring and compassionate

When called to account, immediately and aggressively denies everything, then counter-attacks with distorted or fabricated criticisms and allegations; if this is insufficient, quickly feigns victimhood

Shows a lack of joined-up thinking with conversation that doesn't flow and arguments that don't hold water

May pursue a vindictive vendetta against anyone who dares to held them accountable

Belittle, undermine, denigrate and discredit anyone who calls, attempts to call, or might call the bully to account

Gains gratification from denying people what they are entitled to

Spiritually dead although may loudly profess some religious belief or affiliation

Aggressive, devious, manipulative, spiteful, vengeful, doesn't listen, can't sustain mature adult conversation, lacks a conscience, shows no remorse, is drawn to power, emotionally cold and flat, humourless, joyless, ungrateful, dysfunctional, disruptive, divisive, rigid and inflexible, selfish, insincere, insecure, immature and deeply inadequate, especially in interpersonal skills

The way they the bully treats their targets:

[These generally are a pattern, not an incident, an accumulation of many small incidents over a long period of time.]

...refusal to acknowledge you and your contributions and achievements or to recognise your existence and value. belittled, demeaned and patronised humiliated, shouted at and threatened

constant nit-picking, fault-finding and criticism marginalized, overruled, ignored, sidelined, frozen out...

Reacting to Bullys: Why don't you stand up for yourself?

PS. Revisit the film Network. Pay particular attention to Ned Beatty's riff on Corporate Cosmology. The 'New World Order' thing is not so new doncha know.

For catharsis [of sorts], get The Wild Bunch. LoL

Thursday, November 10, 2005

The new Enemies List

We were assured that the new laws of the Patriot Act would not be abused. That the information was secure and was only going to be used for security purposes... Well looks like that isn't true...


Spurred by paranoia and aided by the USA Patriot Act, the Bush Administration has compiled dossiers on more than 10,000 Americans it considers political enemies and uses those files to wage war on those who disagree with its policies. The "enemies list" dates back to Bush's days as governor of Texas and can be accessed by senior administration officials in an instant for use in campaigns to discredit those who speak out against administration policies or acts of the President.

The computerized files include intimate personal details on members of Congress; high-ranking local, state and federal officials; prominent media figures and ordinary citizens who may, at one time or another, have spoken out against the President or Administration.

Capitol Hill Blue has spoken with a number of current and former administration officials who acknowledge existence of the enemies list only under a guarantee of confidentiality. Those who have seen the list say it is far more extensive than Richard Nixon's famous "enemies list" of Watergate fame or Bill Clinton's dossiers on political enemies.

"How is that you think Karl (Rove) and Scooter (Libby) were able to disseminate so much information on Joe Wilson and his wife," says one White House aide. "They didn't have that information by accident. They had it because they have files on those who might hurt them.". . .

Rove started the list while Bush served as governor of Texas, compiling information on various political enemies in the state and leaking damaging information on opponents to friends in the press. The list grew during Bush's first run for President in 2000 but the names multiplied rapidly after the terrorist attacks of 2001 and passage of the USA Patriot Act.

Using the powers under the [Patriot] act, Rove expanded the list to more than 10,000 names, utilizing the FBI's "national security letters" to gather private and intimate details on American citizens....

The US Government has used the authority given to them in a time of National Crisis, with the understanding that it was to be used solely for the defense of this nation, to compile a database of information about thousands of US Citizens for the sole purpose of Black Mailing those people into doing what this administration wants them to do.

The Power given to Bush to protect America has been used to further his own political agenda to the detriment of our Security, liberty, and democracy


Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Privatizing Torture

This editorial is focused on bringing Dick Cheney up short for his advocating a CIA exemption on torture:

There was always a brooding, Hobbesian Cheney just beneath the misleading openness he learned in his native Wyoming. But this week, the vice president took a turn into the deepest heart of human darkness. This week, unprecedented in history, an elected vice president of the United States of America proposed that Congress legally authorize the torture of foreigners by Americans...

Towards the end of the article, a point is made that is a bit tangential but one that points to a bit of a flaw in the 'the private sector does it better, cheaper' argument:
Bassiouni then told of the private contractors who operate wholly on their own. He outlined how team after team of interrogators comes in. The first team says they "got something," so the second has to "get something," too.

They charge $200 per hour per person to interrogate, and more than likely, they draw out their time clock by torturing prisoners. For four men for four hours, that's $3,200 of taxpayer money paid for the ugly demeaning of everything America once stood for.

By setting profit lines on torture, you get the 'consultant game' of inflating bills. That is, to maximize profits, torture more and longer, regardless of the value of the results.

You may think that this statement is OTT, but I remind you that private, for profit companies have one mission: the maximization of profits for their shareholders. Social goals do not enter into the equation. [exceptions to this rule are few, and usually only occur in closely held companies.]

Intended or not, the employees are put in a 'double bind' of goals and objectives. [Read G Bateson for a more detailed description and the psychological consequences of 'double binds'..'a Theory of Schizophrenia' ]

Or, as my good friend, Frank Carney used to say: " since the goals create a catch 22 for individuals. the system will eventually drive the individual into criminal or crazy behavior"

For an expanded discussion on the ethics of 'profit maximization', see Mark Kleinman: one two three

More on this later...

Source article:
Georgie Anne Geyer: 'The dark heart of Dick Cheney'

Democrats to Blame for everything

Delay is reaching a bit here..

In a speech to a group of conservative academics and policy experts, DeLay blamed the runaway spending of recent years on minority Democrats.

When he took questions, the first came from a senior official at the American Conservative Union, who asked DeLay,

"How large does the Republican majority in the House and Senate need to be before Republicans act like the fiscal conservative I thought we were?" [washington post]

Humor in Journalism | Needlenose