New Civilization News - Category: Politics    
 The Official Other Hand1 comment
7 Oct 2004 @ 18:24, by ov. Politics
The Canadian parliament has started up for another season with the first minority government in twenty five years. The good news is that nothing radical is likely to happen out of fear that a vote of nonconfidence will trigger an early election; the down side is that a lot of time will be wasted and nothing at all will be accomplished.

This morning I heard a letter I wrote read on the CBC radio. They even pronounced my name correctly. It sounded good and felt good. Next step is to get a petition started. I hope this flies.

Greetings Anna Maria Tremonti

Intention and perspective are two of the most important aspects of reaching a common ground where it is possible to cooperatively work together. Think of the shift in attitude that would occur if we were to officialy change the name from "The Official Opposition" to "The Official Other Hand."

It has a touch of that Canadian humor that would lead to wide transmission. More importantly it would be a constant reminder that members of parliament are expected to work cooperatively towards the citizen's best interests, instead of the adversarial partisan politics which often does nothing but set the stage for pretentious ego battles leading to loggerheads.

Robert Oveson
Vancouver  More >

 George Soros and FactCheck4 comments
picture 7 Oct 2004 @ 15:54, by ming. Politics
George Soros now has a blog. He's done many good things like the Open Society Institute. And, now, it is quite useful when a billionaire can put some significant resources behind opposing George Bush's regime.

Yesterday Soros got a good deal more traffic than he had expected. During the U.S. vice presidential debate, Dick Cheney suggested for the viewers to go to to get the truth about accusations made about his former company Haliburton. And after the debate, an average of a hundred people a second went to that site. It is just that Cheney unfortunately had given the wrong URL. He had meant to say happened to be some random commercial site hosted by some people in the Cayman Islands. When they realized what had happened, they decided it would be a better idea if they redirected all that traffic to Soros' site, even though he has no relation to them. A good political statement, and Soros' server could probably handle the traffic load. Which is having a bit of trouble with. Seems like a fine and objective site, though. I think Cheney regrets that he tried to mention it, as they found quite a few more flaws in what he said than in what Edwards said.
Cheney wrongly implied that FactCheck had defended his tenure as CEO of Halliburton Co., and the vice president even got our name wrong. He overstated matters when he said Edwards voted "for the war" and "to commit the troops, to send them to war." He exaggerated the number of times Kerry has voted to raise taxes, and puffed up the number of small business owners who would see a tax increase under Kerry's proposals.

Edwards falsely claimed the administration "lobbied the Congress" to cut the combat pay of troops in Iraq, something the White House never supported, and he used misleading numbers about jobs.
Hard work to keep those guys honest, I'm sure. While watching their debate, I thought they came out about even, but now reading the fact check analysis, it is obvious that they didn't do equally well in the truth department.  More >

 Sending a Message1 comment
picture 5 Oct 2004 @ 13:53, by ming. Politics
After watching the U.S. presidential debate the other day, I'm puzzled at what it possibly might be that Bush is doing right. You know, I see a guy who's dazed and confused, seeming to be under the influence of some kind of psychiatric drugs, unable to discuss the issues at hand, but simply able to wake up once in a while and repeat the same two or three points, with some conviction, but without much relevance to the particular questions at hand. And, ok, Kerry isn't particularly charming, but he was prepared for defending his position and the rationale behind it and for presenting some kind of plan. So why is it that a considerable percentage of the U.S. population actually considers Bush a leader who delivers a message they like?

Well, I noticed a particular difference, which also might be a typical difference between what's called conservatives (=republicans) and what is called liberals or progressives (=democrats) in the U.S. You know, Kerry was talking about whether the war in Iraq was justified or not, which based on the evidence, it wasn't. But he thinks that it would be a bigger mess not to "finish" it at this point. No matter how clearly he lays that out, it opens him up to being accused on flip-flopping and not being sure what he thinks. And then there's the key point: What message are we sending? Most of Bush's position added up to "sending a clear message". A message to the world, a message to the U.S. allies, a message to the Iraqi people, a message to the troops in Iraq, a message to the "terrists". It apparently has nothing whatsoever to do with whether that war is backed up with sufficiently good reasons or whether anybody is better off for it or whether sufficient dialogue has taken place. No, the main thing is sending a message. Showing how strong and single-minded we (the U.S.) are.

That is clearly contrasted to the other approach, which is to look at the facts, talk about things, and try to take the best possible action. And if the situation or the information changes, then to talk about that, and see what to do next.

Now, I'd definitely be leaning towards considering the second approach the "proper" way. Not based on any political opinion, but based on the need for examining what is at stake before taking important decisions. Seems self-evident to me. You need to check with reality first, and hear what everybody involved have to say. Dialogue. Cooperation. Seeking the truth. "Democracy" it is called, as well. Going through some kind of process where everybody involved will have some kind of input into making the best possible decision.

So it is with some incredulity that I realize that a whole lot of people don't work like that at all. Rather, they start with the outcome they'd like to see happen, and then they use the means at hand for getting it to happen. Which includes talking about it, repeating it, giving reasons for it, lining up other people who think so, or just going ahead and doing it. And in that camp you score points for not ever wavering from the view you started off with. Staying firm on your conviction is more important than facts, or whether lots of other important stake holders disagree.

You'll recognize it with religious convictions, of course. They don't come out of a dialogue that is intended to unearth the facts and the most desirable outcome. On the contrary, it usually starts with some arbitrary statement interpreted from an old book by a revered prophet, and it is believed necessary to get its intention carried out, without being distracted by facts or feelings or different views.

I'm not aware of any previous U.S. administration before Bush's that worked predominantly in that way. I.e. they work out in some think tank what their position is and what is supposed to happen, and then they go and do it, and facts and differing opinions make very little difference.

But apparently it works because it resonates with something in many people. And I do recognize it always having been there in the "conservative" mindset. Just never before has it been exploited so blatantly and openly.

An example would be the issue of abortion. The conservative view would tend to be that it is wrong, for religious or moral reasons. Thus the task becomes to send a strong message that we don't want that, and laws are merely a tool for sending that message. But even most of the conservative politicians who campaign against abortion rights would privately admit that if their own daughter needed an abortion, they would of course help her with that. Bush Sr was caught admitting that once, for example. The point is that in that mindset, such an apparent conflict doesn't change the position. The position is a certain point which one needs to send a message about. It is only a minor issue whether it really would work for everybody, or whether there's agreement about it, or whether one even oneself would want to adhere to it.

The difference is clear in the typical liberal vs conservative ways of talking about things. Well, I don't know if it is really just a liberal vs conservative thing. I don't really like or agree with the illusion of a political spectrum. But let's stick with those words for the moment.

So, liberal people would tend to want to dig up the facts and talk about them and they tend to want to look for some solution that works for most everybody. Some kind of consensus based on what is on the table. So, obviously one can't preach the outcome in advance, because one doesn't know what it is yet. The answer is "it depends".

For conservative people, that seems terribly wishy-washy and ineffective. The thing to do is to have a strong position, based on moral principles and the protection of your own kind, and then you carry your intention through, no matter what. So, you score points for a noble and moral aim, presented clearly and concisively. And for going through whatever it takes to get there.

So, the way liberals would want to discuss big issues would be to bring forward various kinds of facts and the concerns of various kinds of stake holders. Say the issue is the war in Iraq, or global warming. Instinctively, this kind of person would believe that if we just bring this all out in the open, sane people would realize the truth and act accordingly. And these folks are really surprised if even the most obvious and horrifying facts don't change public opinion.

The conservatives use information very differently. It is not used as input to help people decide what is what. It is used to back up the moral and noble aim that is being carried through, and as part of the message. So, the information that is being provided is to support and strengthen and promote the position we started with. If things aren't going well, the answer is to speak more clearly about the initial position, to create a more clear and focused message, backed up by whatever is available to back it up with.

There's a considerable number of right-wing weblogs which seem remarkably well coordinated and synchronized. Common for a lot of them is that their opponents, the left-wing liberals, loudly are regarded simply as "idiots", "morons", or similar words. You see a surprising number of blogs where that's even stated as the head-line or in the blog's name. You know "anti-idiotarian ..." And they go to some length to create "Laugh at Liberals" websites, and that kind of thing. No, I'm not going to link to them. But my point is the different way of having dialogue. The liberal approach of showing concern for different sides is just very funny and ridiculous for people on the other side. Obviously moronic and naive to think one could actually talk with North Korea, or reason with terrorists, hahah. The right-wing blogs also post loads of information about the bad deeds of the bad guys, but again, information selected to back up a position, not information selected to provide the whole picture.

I don't see very many left-wing weblogs that spend most of their energy on ridiculing right-wing people. Oh, not that anybody would mind, but it doesn't seem to be the same focus. Which is again that difference. From the conservative perspective, it is of crucial importance to take down the opponent. From the liberal perspective it is of crucial importance to bring everything on the table, to be decided. The first approach often wins, because it is much easier and clear.

There are other aspects to the stereotypes of conservative and liberal people, of course. For conservatives, the ideal is a strong father figure who imposes discipline, and discipline and hard work are rewarded. For liberals, the ideal is a nurturing mother figure who listens to everybody's concerns and makes sure there's a warm meal for everybody. For conservatives, the world is a dangerous place and one better protect oneself and one's property against the bad people out there. For liberals, the world is basically a nice place and there needs to be room for all of us in it.

Anyway, I still don't believe in the political categories or spectrum. I think it is a fake scheme to cover up the real choices. Anyway, the political groups often end up doing the opposite of what they're supposed to. Like, in the U.S. it is supposed to be the conservatives that are for small government and private freedom, but yet they create the most humongous central government and spend more money than anybody else, and they put way more curbs on personal freedoms, many only for abstract religous reasons. And the supposedly big government liberals end up balancing the budget and to a much higher degree let people do what they feel is right. Anyway, that's all the U.S. picture. Looks different in other parts of the world.

Anyway, I didn't actually mean to talk just about politics. My point was the difference between worldviews of those who prefer clear, strong messages and those who prefer to have a dialogue about the facts. I'm afraid there's unfortunately still more of the first kind of people.  More >

 Republican Concentration Camps36 comments
picture 7 Sep 2004 @ 02:07, by ming. Politics
Below is a letter, from an e-mail, from a regular woman who's daughther was held for several days in a containment facility for temporary political prisoners, without access to telephones or legal representation. In New York. A facility run, apparently, by the Republican National Committee. The young lady made the mistake of walking though a park on a day when thousands of protesters were being rounded up and locked away, so that the Republican Convention could, eh, do its thing. Lots more of the kind from indymedia.

At the same time, the NYPD is testing its new long range sound weapon. Well, really it was made for violent mobs in Iraq. But, hey, works great for random people walking on the street in New York too. Some of them might be Democrats.

I'm increasingly glad I now live out here in the free world, in a place where one is allowed to demonstrate, with police protection, and where there are free elections and human rights.  More >

 Kerry is making it very tough....36 comments
picture7 Sep 2004 @ 01:18, by quinty. Politics
Is Kerry really as shallow as he appears to be? He went to Bill Clinton just before the latter went into surgery to ask for campaign strategy advice. Clinton, the darling of the DLC, who has said nothing against this war. (Whereas Gore has been eloquent on the subject.) Who has only mouthed some “third way” mumbo jumbo about the need for enduring patience as our leaders gradually find their way in this post 9/11 world. Yes, Clinton is popular, and if he could go on the stump he would help Kerry. That would be a boost. But Clinton also appears to be totally out of touch.  More >

 If The President Comes To Your Town16 comments
picture6 Sep 2004 @ 11:03, by jazzolog. Politics
My photo shows Parkersburg High School and us demonstrators at the distance we were kept by police lines, complete with police dogs, Secret Service and SWAT teams. You can see the lights of the football stadium, which obviously is further away still. The other sides of the school and stadium were lined with a fleet of schoolbuses parked bumper to bumper.

Fall River's many white apes
hurry like flying snow
haul their children over the branches
lap at the moon in the water


Make the universe your companion, always bearing in mind the true nature of all creation---mountains and rivers, trees and grasses, and humanity---and enjoy the falling blossoms and scattering leaves.


As naturally as the oak bears an acorn, and the vine a gourd, a man bears a poem, either spoken or done.

---Henry David Thoreau

Parkersburg, West Virginia, is a sleepy town on the Ohio River an hour or so north of Charleston, the state's capitol. The Wood County Seat, for many years it's had a shopping mall that attracts consumers from miles around...including our town which is an hour west. There also are a number of curious federal centers in Parkersburg, chiefly the Bureau of Public Debt---here at a location conveniently out of sight of Washington policymakers. The Parkersburg High School has a football stadium attached which can hold about 9000 people, a graduate told me. What happens to a town like this if the President of the United States decides to stop by on the campaign trail?  More >

 Democrats For Bush By Thomas Sowell14 comments
4 Sep 2004 @ 00:39, by bkodish. Politics
Well, I'm registered as a "Democrat."
The first major Republican I voted for, for a major office, was Arnold Schwartzenegger for Governor of my fair state. And now it looks as if I'm going to vote for George Bush.

Thomas Sowell puts things well for me.

If you're shaking your head in wonderment and disbelief, I have lots of friends and loved ones who shake their heads too. Ah well.

Democrats for Bush
by Thomas Sowell
Jewish World Review Sept. 3, 2004

"Democratic Senator Zell Miller's electrifying speech at the Republican convention may overshadow the fact that another well-known Democrat — New York's former mayor, Ed Koch — has also crossed party lines to support and campaign for President George W. Bush."

"Never a shrinking violet, Ed Koch says that he disagrees with President Bush on virtually all domestic issues, but that the over-riding issue of our time is the war on terrorism — and that his own Democratic Party doesn't have the "stomach" (Koch's word) for the fight. Mayor Koch understands that if we don't win the war on terrorism, nothing else is going to matter."  More >

 More thoughts on the present changes3 comments
3 Sep 2004 @ 17:12, by craiglang. Politics
Last night I briefly caught some of Bush's acceptance speech. What caught my attention was the way in which he attempted to associate himself with the heroes of 9/11. But overall what struck me was the stridency and the degree of divisiveness which I saw. Listenning to what little I did of the Republican convention, it struck me just how much the level of polarity has increased in our present day. It once again dramatizes to me that the pace of change in our world is quickening, and we have reached a key crossroads in history.  More >

2 Sep 2004 @ 16:42, by namakando. Politics

 Fly at your own risk!1 comment
picture22 Aug 2004 @ 22:34, by spells. Politics
WSWS : News & Analysis : North America

Why was Senator Kennedy placed on US “no fly” list?
By David Walsh and Barry Grey
21 August 2004

At a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on August 19, convened to discuss the September 11 commission’s recommendations, Senator Edward Kennedy revealed that for a period of five weeks this spring he had been repeatedly told he could not fly on commercial airplanes because his name was on the government’s “no fly” list.

The longtime Massachusetts Democratic senator (first elected to complete his brother John’s term in 1962, and now the second most senior member of the Senate) disclosed that between March 1 and April 6 airline agents had blocked him from boarding flights, mainly between Washington DC and Boston, on five separate occasions.

The 72-year-old Kennedy briefly recounted the Kafkaesque incidents: “He [the ticket agent] said, ‘We can’t give it to you ... You can’t buy a ticket to go on the airline to Boston.’ I said, ‘Well, why not?’ He said, ‘We can’t tell you.’ Tried to get on a plane back to Washington ... ‘You can’t get on the plane.’ I went up to the desk and said, ‘I’ve been getting on this plane, you know, for 42 years. Why can’t I get on the plane?’”

On each occasion, at Boston’s Logan International Airport, Washington’s Reagan National Airport and one other, airline supervisors ultimately overruled the ticket agents and permitted Kennedy to board his plane. All the flights were on US Airways.

Kennedy staff members eventually telephoned the Transportation Security Administration, a branch of the Department of Homeland Security, and officials there promised to rectify the mistake. However, it took them several weeks to clear up the matter. In fact, only days after Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge called Kennedy in early April to apologize, another airline agent attempted to block the Massachusetts Democrat from boarding.

Kennedy commented at Thursday’s hearing, “If they have that kind of difficulty with a member of Congress, how in the world are average Americans, who are getting caught up in this thing, how are they going to be treated fairly and not have their rights abused?”

This seemingly bizarre episode is largely being treated as a joke in the US media. But it raises questions that are anything but amusing.

The secret “no-fly” list was instituted after the September 11 hijack bombings. The government will not disclose any information about the watch list. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has obtained FBI documents indicating that more than 350 Americans have been delayed or denied boarding since the list came into being. None of them, however, has been arrested or charged with any crime.
Senior ACLU counsel Reggie Shuford told the Washington Post, “That a clerical error could lend one of the most powerful people in Washington to the list—it makes one wonder just how many others who are not terrorists are on the list. Someone of Senator Kennedy’s stature can simply call a friend to have his name removed, but a regular American citizen does not have that ability. He [Kennedy] had to call three times himself.”

The ACLU has filed lawsuits in San Francisco and Seattle, demanding that the government explain how wrongly flagged travelers may get their names off the list.
The day after Kennedy’s revelation, Democratic Congressman John Lewis of Georgia reported that he too has been singled out for special scrutiny because someone on the watch list allegedly has the same name. Lewis told reporters he cannot obtain an electronic ticket, must show extra identification, and has his luggage checked by hand.

According to the Associated Press, Lewis said one airline representative in Atlanta told him, “Once you’re on the list, there’s no way to get off it.” A faculty member at the University of Houston, also named John Lewis, reported a similar problem.

There is some unclarity as to the name appearing on the watch list in the Kennedy incident. The Washington Post reports that “A senior administration official who spoke on condition he not be identified said Kennedy was stopped because the name ‘T. Kennedy’ has been used as an alias by someone on the list of terrorist suspects.” A number of media outlets carried the same version of the story.

Of course, “Ted” Kennedy’s real first name is Edward, and would appear as such on any ticket or identification documents, so why the senator’s name should set off alarms, even if a ‘T. Kennedy’ appeared on a “no fly” list, is a mystery that has not been explained.

The New York Times reports a different story: “The alias used by the suspected terrorist on the watch list was Edward Kennedy, said David Smith, a spokesman for the senator, who uses his full name, with a middle initial, of Edward M. Kennedy.”

Homeland Security officials, echoed uncritically by the media, present the Kennedy episode as an innocent mistake, an example of continuing glitches in the Homeland Security system. Even if one accepts the claim that Kennedy’s flight problems were the result of a mistake, considering what they reveal about the government watch list, the episode can hardly be deemed innocuous. If the seven-term senator from Massachusetts, one of the most prominent figures in national politics, can be treated as a terrorist suspect, then what are the implications of the government watch lists and databases for ordinary people?

Even if Kennedy got caught up in the Homeland Security network by mistake, the fact remains that scores of others have found themselves blocked from boarding planes because of their antiwar and anti-Bush political views.
There are, moreover, aspects of the Kennedy affair that cannot be so easily explained away. Why did it take Ridge four weeks to apologize, and why, after the mistake was supposedly corrected, was Kennedy stopped yet again?
Given the decade-long history of political conspiracy and provocation carried out by the Republican right against prominent Democrats—from the scandal-mongering and entrapment of Clinton that culminated in the Kenneth Starr witch-hunt, the Monica Lewinsky affair, and Clinton’s impeachment, to the stolen election of 2000, to the still unexplained anthrax attacks against Democratic leaders in Congress—the state harassment of Kennedy and Lewis, both of whom are considered in media and official circles to be “icons” of the liberal wing of the Democratic Party, cannot be so casually dismissed.
With the installation of the Bush administration, the most right-wing forces within the US political establishment assumed power, and they have continued to employ the same methods they used to capture the White House. As a result, relations within the political establishment have become increasingly poisoned, even as the Democratic Party has continued to lurch to the right and sought to conciliate its Republican antagonists.

Events of the past few years have demonstrated that extreme right-wing elements in and around the Bush administration are moving toward the criminalization of political opposition.
In May 2003, for example, Republican officials in Texas, taking their lead from House Majority Leader Tom Delay, called on the Department of Homeland Security to track down 53 Democratic state legislators who had boycotted the Texas House of Representatives and fled to neighboring Oklahoma in an attempt to block a redistricting bill that favored the Republicans. Delay asked the FBI to intervene and return the “fugitives” to Texas.

Two months later, in July 2003, a leading Republican in the US House of Representatives, Congressman Bill Thomas of California, called on Capitol police to oust Democrats from a room where they were caucusing. The Democrats were meeting to discuss how to deal with Republican legislation that would sharply reduce corporate payments to workers’ pension funds.
No serious investigation has ever been carried out into the attempted assassination of the Democratic leadership of the US Senate, when letters filled with anthrax spores were sent to the offices of senators Tom Daschle and Patrick Leahy in the fall of 2001. The anthrax attacks are widely believed to have been carried out by right-wing elements with ties to the US military or intelligence apparatus.

Kennedy embodies the flaccid and impotent state of American liberalism. He is nonetheless demonized by elements within and around the Republican Party, who denounce him as a traitor for his criticisms of the Bush administration and its conduct of the Iraq war.

Was the airport harassment a deliberate act of political intimidation—a “shot across the bow” aimed at Kennedy and other congressional critics of Bush’s policies?

Another intriguing question arises: why did Kennedy remain silent during the five weeks of his harassment?

Was he concerned that the revelation would discredit the “no-fly” list and the panoply of sinister Homeland Security operations, which he and the rest of the congressional Democrats have endorsed? Did he sense that he was, in some way, being set up? Or did the incident have its desired effect of further intimidating a “liberal” critic?

In any event, Kennedy’s failure to immediately denounce these episodes amounts to one more Democratic capitulation to the police-state propensities of the Bush administration.

See Also:
Specter of a police state
FBI “anti-terror” task force targets Bush administration opponents
[18 August 2004]
A further attack on democratic rights
All US airline passengers to undergo government background checks
[21 January 2004]
ACLU files lawsuit challenging “no-fly” list
[7 May 2003]  More >

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