Project Freedom
Longer essays and responses in regards to the Project For A New Century Of Freedom

Wednesday, January 07, 2004  

Streaming Noonan - Howard Dean: I Don't Want To Like Him, But The Bad Boy Doctor Has Captured My Heart

on-the-fly alternate version of peggie noonan's "lover's call" to howard dean

I don't want to like Howard Dean. I don't mean I want to oppose him; I mean I don't want to like him. I will find him revolting even if I agree with him, because he has too much power over me, and I am a respectable woman. I desperately don't want the Democratic Party to have a strong nominee this year, or to get weak kneed, for several reasons. One is that it is a threat to the one great party, mine, the Republican Party, and it is dispiriting to think the Democratic Party will be able to summon up a deeply impressive contender. Another is that a culture of greed and crony capitalism is best served by shallow presidential nominees duking it out region to region in an absurd war of competing spin and cult of personalities that conveniently ignores the pressing issues of the day. A third is that I, the Republican Party, and my girlfriends are frigid and overcome with infighting when faced with a strong challenger. When confronted by an alpha male like Bill Clinton, we lost nearly every political battle but still managed to wage the war, weakening his leadership and strength as president (the whole country in the process), and managing to impeach him for receiving oral sex from a consenting and doting adult. We're sore losers, and made a mockery of democracy and America the last time we were in the opposition, just to point out that Clinton was doing the same with his dirty sex behind closed doors, which we had to expose in order for people to know about. When faced with Michael Dukakis we came up with flag-burning amendments (patriotism) and Willie Horton (racism). Those were the good old days. We need to feel unthreatened and in charge before we even pretend to champion American values of liberty and tolerance, let alone respect the president and not criticize him during times of war, which we patriotically made our duty to do in opposition to Bill Clinton and Wesley Clark's ill-advised efforts and zeal to stop ethnic cleansing in Europe.

I do not know how Howard Dean will do in Iowa, but I am one of those who think the Democrats will nominate Dr. Dean, and so I would like to destroy and disparage him before others any way I can. I also would like to dislike him because now and then he says something that shows promise. Yesterday when asked if he ever wonders what would Jesus do, he replied: "No." This was so candid, I loved it. We real conservatives and Christians always lie when caught with that question unawares. Jesus would never advocate preemptive war, or executing the mentally disabled. In the same interview, when asked if his wife would join him on the campaign trail, he said, "I do not intend to drag her around because I think I need her as a prop on the campaign trail." Political spouses often are dragged around as props. It's not terrible to say so. It's refreshing. So much so that I'm beginning to feel empowered to stop being a political prop myself.

So it's hard not to like Howard Dean. He seems as big a trimmer as Bill Clinton, and as bold and talented in that area as Mr. Clinton, and this can only mean he has the goods to become commander-in-chief, not to mention the doctor of my dreams. He says America is no safer for the capture of Saddam Hussein, and then he doesn't back down against overwhelming criticism. My knees get weak just thinking about going against the "Saddam is the bogeyman, he's not under our bed anymore" grain. He floats a rumor that the Saudis tipped off President Bush before 9/11, and then he says it's just that, a rumour, and not to be believed. When he is confronted and scolded for daring to question the integrity of the president, he dissembles with Clintonian bravado, by repeating his dismissal of the rumour, which is a hot currency with a growing subculture on the Internet. This is not a good sign, as calling Dean a liar only exposes our own flank on the same charge.

Unlike our current president, who downplays his quick temper and seems to enjoy war and executions, Dean appears angry about misstated war justifications, the growing and accompanying anti-Americanism around the globe, and the trillion dollar cost of the war. In the past, I have thought of him as an angry Old Testament prophet, less Job than Jeremiah, and that just gets me way too horny. His eyes are cold marbles, in repose his face falls into lines of mere calculation, and he holds himself with a kind of no-neck pugnacity that makes me so wet I start shaking. I like my male friends sunny, easygoing and optimistic, but I think the ladies will agree with me that my lovers need to have access to my nuclear launch code, and that means strength, determination, and no bullshit. Dr. Dean's supporters no doubt see him as their man, but I am optimistic he will be mine. Sigh.

Back to the matter at hand, there is a disjunction between Dean's ethnic background and his personal style. His background is eastern WASP--Park Avenue, the Hamptons, boarding school, Yale. But he doesn't seem like a WASP. I know it's not nice to deal in stereotypes, but there seems very little Thurston Howell III, or George Bush the elder for that matter, in Dr. Dean. He seems unpolished, sexy, doesn't hide his aggression, is proudly pugnacious. He doesn't look or act the part of the dry and boring WASP who's lousy in the sack. This may be partly because of his generation, and his days growing up in the 60's. Forebear WASPs didn't really learn How It's Done the way their carefree, experimental sons did. (Boomers of every ethnicity are more exciting than their forebears.) George W. Bush is a little like this too--he partied as hard, and had as much sex, as any of them. At any rate there is some political meaning to this. It will be harder for Republicans to tag Dr. Dean as Son of the Maidstone Club than it was for Democrats to tag Bush One as Heir to Greenwich Country Day. Howard don't play that.

To be honest, Dr. Dean's determined look and strong demeanor will only cause him to ignore me for a younger, hotter, richer babe. Oh, to be 20 years younger! Play doctor with me Dr. Dean!

Ahem. Back to politics. Howard Dean is as much like George McGovern as 2004 is like 1972, which is to say not much. But Dr. Dean is like Mr. McGovern in an important way. Mr. McGovern was guided and inspired by his own sense of a particular ideology. He reflected it, and his young supporters, who that year took over the party, shared it. They stood for something. Dr. Dean, and his supporters, young and old, seem to have more than just a coherent platform. They also have an aggressive and winning attitude, one that combined with the Internet has the power for the first time in American modern history to counter the mainstream corporate and government media.

Howard Dean's rise is about two things. The first is the war. Most of the other serious Democratic candidates caved in like proper inferiors. Dean didn't dare back down, or appear equivocal: The Bush Administration is not being straight with the American people, and American lives, loves, treasure, and reputation is at stake. Would Jesus rush into war under false pretenses? And, as developments have unfolded, his position has been vindicated. This was pitch-perfect for an already offended and betrayed American people resulting from the debacle of the 2000 election. Having gained the advantage, Dr. Dean never let go. His imprint was set. He left his competitors stuttering, "But at the time the president's data did seem compelling, and so . . ." He forged on. His was the shrewdest, quickest read of the Democratic voter of 2004, not to mention the shoddy evidence and shifting justifications of the pre-war period.

The second reason for his rise is that he is not an insider but an insurgent. He has an insurgent's attitude and blunt displeasure (or sometimes uncanny poetic imagery, as when he referred to members of Congress as cockroaches scurrying from the light of free information and popular access to governing). The young and Internet-savvy, along with the politically disenfranchised, found this approach attractive. (An essay should be written by a Democrat on how the Democratic establishment--the men and women of the Clinton era, the party members in Congress--can become a strong and loyal opposition without being chumps.) Dr. Dean's forces used the Internet with great and impressive creativity, and not only in fund-raising. Have you seen Flat Howard? It's a life-size Howard printout you can get off your computer. You tape the pieces together and have a life-size Howard Dean. They're ingenious and spirited in Dean-land, and my copy hangs on my ceiling, though I secretly fantasize the coming of an Inflatable Howard.

Because Dr. Dean is operating as an insurgent, not only within his party and America, but in my heart, we hold him to different standards. Were the justifications and evidence for the war in Iraq inconsistent? No, Bush is nimble. Was he dishonest in his statements about the threat of Saddam Hussein? No, he was just tying those establishment opposition Democrat types in knots. Mr. Bush's supporters seem to like him not in spite of his drawbacks, but because of them. Dr. Dean means to heal this malady.

I want to dislike my Howard, but he is the object of my deepest and darkest fantasies, and God knows I need some sexual healing. Methinks Jesus would approve.

as you can see, the final version differs markedly from this first draft

posted by Jimm | 11:49 PM

Sunday, June 01, 2003  

Response To Cato - Regarding Big Media And FCC

These are my initial thoughts and ideas in response to this article on Cato's website. The sloppy bunch of so-called libertarians on this site are giving libertarian ideas a bad name. You can bet that I will incorporate the best of these into my main arguments over at Freedom Century, and unleash a devastating and demoralizing blow to the useful allies of the media barons. Arguments in italics are from the article.

A heated debate over the relaxation of media ownership rules that artificially restrict media business activities is set to culminate in a June 2 ruling by the Federal Communications Commission. Consumer groups already decry what they see as growing media concentration or even monopolization, and caution that our democracy is somehow at risk of being dictated to by a handful of media barons. How real are these fears?

There has been no heated "public" debate. Practically no coverage of the issue.

In reality, the media are less concentrated and more competitive today than they were 30 years ago. And consumers are unambiguously better off.

Notice the blanket assuredness of these statements. The media is less concentrated, in the sense of all media, and consumers are "unambiguously" better off.

Consider two families, circa 1973 versus 2003, and the media and entertainment options available to them. The 1973 family could flip through three major network television stations, or tune in to a PBS station or a UHF channel or two. By comparison, today's families can take advantage of a 500-plus channel universe of cable and satellite-delivered options, order movies on demand, and check out a variety of specialized news, sports, or entertainment programming -- in addition to those same three networks.

Notice that this evidence is restricted to television. In 1973, there were only 3 network news options, but people were much less likely to get their sole information from the network news. The network news was competing with newspapers and radio, each with owners single-mindedly seeking their self-interest and the interest of getting the media message out. Also, PBS was around to assure another balanced perspective, and has it ever been accused of being the voice of the democratic majority?

In today's world, 500-plus channels are almost entirely entertainment-based, also with many educational offerings. This is not to be decried. But it does not mean that meaningful diversity of viewpoints and ideas, especially those of the political variety, and supportive of democracy, is or will be part and parcel. If anything, there is very little diversity of cable news production, each station generally carrying the same content, breaking around the same time, with the same "framing" for the most part, with the notable exception of highly partisan Right-wing pundits emerging ahead of the pack in talk and analysis with less than classically democratic attitudes or ideas (i.e. playing on hate, misunderstanding and fear).

Or, these hypothetical families could just listen to the radio together. Seven thousand stations existed in 1970 nationwide to choose from. Today more than 13,000 stations exist and subscription-based music services are delivered nationwide and uninterrupted via digital satellite.

What families listen to radio together? Sounds odd. Regardless, the 7,000 stations of yesterday are not meaningfully different than the 13,000 today; in fact, there is far less diversity today. Radio used to be very local, with lots of requests and call-ins, but the trend today is standardization Clear-Channel style, with set playlists that vary very little, if at all, and when they do more by regional marketing analysis than actual requests and call-ins. Local news and programming is rapidly becoming non-existent.

As for subscription-based music services, more power to them. This is a great development, but has absolutely nothing to do with the FCC's decision on Monday. In fact, we need to make doubly sure that arguments being made now are specific to the decision on Monday, and not just cherry picking positive developments in media while defending a specific action by the FCC.

And then, of course, there's the Internet and the astonishing cornucopia of communications, information, and entertainment services the World Wide Web offers today's families. In the media Dark Ages of 1973, it would have taken a great deal of time and money to publish your own newsletter. Today, the Internet gives every man, woman, and child the ability to be a
one-person publishing house or broadcasting station, and communicate with the entire planet. Instead of going to the library to retrieve information, as our hypothetical 1973 family might have done, today the library comes to us as the Net puts a world of information at our fingertips. While the 1973 family could read the local newspaper together, today's families can view thousands of newspapers from communities across the planet.

So again, this has nothing to do with the FCC, and their decisions 30 years ago or to be made on Monday. Yes, the web is a great source of information, but already 1 in 5 people log on through Time Warner (see Bagdikian post in my blog from last week). This medium could be corrupted, and filtered, and censored, as well as any other, given more time to develop such methods. It's at least possible. We can say in a neutral way that we have more media choices today than 30 years ago, but many of these are active, not passive, or merely expansion of entertainment options, and people are most influenced by news and push media in a passive way. We must recognize this, and realize that passive consumption of news has probably not changed much in the last 30 years.

And the list goes on: video recorders, DVD players, interactive TVs and cell phones, MP3 players, and a seemingly endless array of other portable/wireless computing and communications devices are available to us today that the families of 1973 only dreamed of, or saw in a "Star Trek" episode.

More entertainment. More choices. Less meaningful communication and information about timely issues of great importance to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. And harder to find, or even to determine to seek, when besieged with endless choices of less than mindful entertainment.

But while America's mass media marketplace is evolving rapidly, the same cannot be said for the regime of rules that govern it, which are stuck in regulatory time warp. Federal regulations that limit how much of the national market can be served by broadcast and cable companies, or prevent a company from owning a newspaper and television station in the same market, or prohibit a television network from buying another network, should be abolished. Why should media companies be forced to play by a distinct set of random ownership rules that we impose on no other industry?

Here we have the first elaborate ruse. Having established a media 'evolving rapidly', the rules are criticized for not having done the same. Yet, rather than criticize this static nature of the rules by advocating sensible rules that could have represented 'evolving', it is determined that the rules should be done away with altogether. 'Abolished'. Why? Since no other industry must follow such onerous and 'random' ownership rules. So they have gone from the specific to the general, rules should be standardized across industries regardless of individual pecularities, and the implicit and sometimes explicit reference is that all of these rules should be abolished, that they are harmful to private industry. This is ideology pure and simple, and completely discredits the buildup specific to the media industry the argument had been taking.

These rules have become historic anachronisms that ignore new market conditions and the intense competition for our eyes and ears. Indeed, far from living in a world of "information scarcity" that some fear, we now live in a world of information overload. The number of information and entertainment options at our disposal has almost become overwhelming and most of us struggle to figure out ways to filter and manage all the information we can choose from in an average day.

This is actually a minority of people who suffer from information overload. Most people are not that connected to the 'active' principle of news gathering yet, to 'pull' media, and many of us on the Internet are. And I have no trouble filtering out excess information. It's taken some time, but it was really just a new and chaotic environment, which I had not mastered, that caused this feeling of overload, not the availability of the information itself. There is no 'overload' of push media and information in the world, at least in terms of meaningful news and political information. It's mainly entertainment and marketing/advertising push media options that crowd people's heads. And people generally have no problem finding a radio station or band they like to hear and listening to them.

A far greater number of people feel they don't have the information, or are not competent or smart enough to understand the information, that would give them a better sense of how the world and politics works around them. This feeling of helplessness as our society becomes more 'technic' and run by technicians and experts is compounded by endless marketing proposals and advertising messages craftily hitting emotional triggers of fear, sex, scandal and the like. Big Media, in the form of media consolidation and large scales with lesser owners, ensures a consistent presentation of advertising more than anything else. Only those who can pay to play to advertise on these Big Media outlets will be responsible for overload, and it will not be educational in the normal sense. What gets peddled and sold will be standardized from place to place, region to region, medium to medium.

It is important to keep such facts in mind when debating changes to the archaic media ownership rules that the FCC is considering revising. Even as the underlying business structures and relationships in this industry continue to change, the one undeniable reality of our modern media marketplace is that information and entertainment are commodities that cannot be monopolized. Accordingly, the FCC should relegate these outdated media ownership rules to the dustbin of telecom history.

Nothing in this essay, which has traced the development of media, 'undeniably' proves in any way, shape or form that information and entertainment 'cannot be monopolized'. This is pure rhetorical showboating. The conclusion that the 'outdated media ownership rules' should be ' the dustbin of telecom history' is wholly unsupported, as showing the media options are expanding rapidly is not ipso facto an argument that monopoly can never occur, and that ownership restrictions aren't in the public's best interest. Further, since these 'archaic' rules have been in place, and this dynamism and innovation has been taken place, there is certainly no alarm that needs to be raised about negative impacts of the current rules. If anything, they have not impeded the growth of media options, while trying to accomplish just such a mission of ensuring such options. It doesn't mean that the FCC's rules are necessarily working either, but certainly nothing is broken. So why change the rules? What's the big deal, the mojo that drives this, the reasoning to shake things up?

Finally, the characterization of the older FCC ownership rules is deceptive. Alternately described as ' a time warp', 'historic anachronisms', 'archaic', and 'outdated', the FCC's rules 'regime' is demonized as backwards, while the media reality and options today are described as a 'plethora', and 'astonishing cornucopia'. How has this 'astonishing cornucopia' happened with the onerous influence of 'archaic' media rules which hinder media busines interests? By my watch, pretty dang good. There's no need to change the rules at all. At least I haven't heard a reason yet. These rules are only 30 or so years old is the Constitution? Is it "archaic" and "outdated", especially since the world has changed so much, become so much more dynamic, and we no longer are an agricultural nation?

So let's recap. We get a history of media from 30 years ago to the present, get a confusion of 'data' overload and 'information' overload (information being meaningful data, in this case the meaningful data which concerns us is viewpoints and opinion, not advertising and entertainment), get hit with a sneak ideological attack on all rules that 'artificially' limit business activity, and get blind-sided with a plethora of absolute and unsupported usages of 'undeniably', 'unambiguously', 'undeniable reality', and so on. I'm so glad we don't have to debate this issue, since there is no controversy, and it is clear that media options are endless, and thus we should throw out all rules that have been in place as these media options enjoyed their great expansion.

posted by Jimm | 8:26 PM

Friday, April 18, 2003  

Just Say No To The Patriot Act

Just say No to the Patriot Act I.

Just say No to the Patriot Act II.

Just say No to terrorism, and fear.

Just say No to restricting our freedom, and securing theirs.

Just say No to lack of accountability and competency, not to mention integrity.

Just say No to measures that don't treat the problems they claim to treat.

Just say No to sneaking through legislation in rah rah America moments that fundamentally effect our society.

Just say No to radical changes in direction by a leadership that didn't even win with a majority vote.

Just say No to criticizing this leadership just for not having this majority, but for assuming some sort of mandate in radically changing the structure of society before the next election.

Just say No.

posted by Jimm | 3:18 AM

Wednesday, April 09, 2003  

So You Want A Patriot Act...A Few Questions

Who's been fired because of 9-11? Why didn't we shoot the planes down earlier? Why did it take so long to respond, when we had warned that such plane suicide hijackings could happen?

Who planted the anthrax and tried to take down our legislative branch? How did they get it into the ventilation shafts? How come we don't seem that concerned with this, when this is clearly the greater threat then plane hijackings? WMD...

Why is that pushed under the rug, along with our rights? Who would argue that anyone trying to hijack a plane today in America wouldn't be torn to shreds like a lamb before a pack of wolves?

Who keeps arguing that the Homeland Security Act is working, because we haven't been hit again? Who's the same guy who seems to have forgotten that we've only been hit with a few of these incidents in our entire history in the homeland? One being the work of one of our own?

Who's not acknowledging that our large cities still are not prepared for WMD, for first response, and still risking the escalation of hatred and desires to attack us by taking the fight to Iraq, not a friend of Al Qaeda? Or that the Coast Guard still is not funded to prevent terrorism by cargo ship container?

Who came up with the hair brained idea to continue to frighten Americans with color coded vague warnings, conveniently rotated from source to source to avoid accountability or "what the hell quit crying wolf"?

Who forgot that the aim of terrorism is to affect political change by the use of fear? Who would argue that the Patriot Act(s) are not a direct response to Bin Laden's plan to attack us, to attack freedom and to instill us with fear and self-doubt?

The very man who "hates our freedom" being so effective in curbing it...

The Patriot Act would not have stopped what happened on 9-11. Only competence would have. And a culture of accountability, attention to detail, communication and the free flow of information, not only between agencies but between all sectors of society.

It's time to slay the bogeyman and his deceptions in the form of the "Patriot" Act. Why is it called the "Patriot" Act anyway? What's the intimation? Subtle intimidation?

Why do the supporters of this legislation keep trying to pass it at the most opportune time when people are rallying around the flag? Is this a cynical manipulation of the political system? Is this an effort to slip something under the radar when people have relaxed their critical perception and our coming together in good and neighborly intentions?

Let's slay the bogeyman, fear, clean up house here in the Homeland, finish the 9-11 investigation, then pass appropriate temporary or permanent legislation to deal with it based upon actual findings and not innuendo and incomplete information?

And on a parallel track keep up the war on terror.

Sounds good to me. End the secrecy, dispel the conspiracies, bring the arguments, free the information, take accountability, and bring sanity and rationality, honesty, forthrightness and integrity back into public life and policy.

Now, about that "Patriot" Act...

posted by Jimm | 4:28 PM

Tuesday, April 08, 2003  

To America

Freedom is an elusive thing. To have, to hold, and to conceive. Try to define it, you will join a divergent chorus. In spite of this, most of us understand at least a common sense of freedom, of what it means, and this usually seems to be good enough. We tend to agree that an American should be free to live without undue interference, to speak, and to own property. Beyond that, there are dueling interpretations of how far we should go.

You'll notice that I specifically mention this freedom in regards to being "an American". With all due respect to the Declaration of Independence, and the ideals expressed within, Americans have always fought for and believed in "our" freedom, not "theirs", and in those cases where we did liberate other peoples we were ultimately doing so for our own purposes, and not strictly for theirs.

This goes back to our origins. Our founding fathers and fellow revolutionaries were not concerned with the free status of other Brits, or of people in any other country for that matter. Not fundamentally so. Our American story, and freedom, is about America, is American, and has always been that way.

At first, this institution of freedom was extended only to a minority of Americans. White men were the originally endowed. Women were seen as unfit and subservient to men, and blacks, native americans, and basically any non-whites were viewed as less-than-human. In these storied and triumphant times, freedom was new, tenuous and biased, and men were quite obviously victims of their own ignorance.

In psychological terms, a whole lot of repression was going on. How else could the belief in racial and gender superiority be justified in the light of the ideals enshrined in our Declaration of Independence? It couldn't. Today, we see this kind of behavior and thinking for what it is, misguided and ignorant, and if persisted with in the face of a more sane and rational outlook, with competing and superior information and understanding, rightly considered evil.

Which our founders of course were not. Our founders were brave and pioneering men and women, fighting against subservience and oppression, and distinguishing themselves to us and to history despite their misunderstanding and ignorance of the true state of human nature. This misapprehension of the true status of human life, and rights, and who is and what it means to be human, is unfortunate and a human error we have corrected in our times, though it still lingers in remnants, in pockets of ignorance, even among our elected leaders.

A lot our founders did get right though, and our pride as a people begins with them. We enjoy the fruits of our liberty today because of their struggles. Since those times, we've come a long way in bringing the ideal and practice of freedom into more intimate embrace. Every American is included in the franchise of freedom now, with the obvious exception of minors. Our flag waves with honor, even though some may choose to burn it. So be it. America is not and has never been evil, because we have changed and adapted to righteous challenge. In the light of reason, conflict and compassion we have improved and expanded the franchise of freedom to all Americans, and for this we should be very proud.

What we cannot be proud of is the shameful behavior of some of our fellow citizens who have trouble with opinions differing from their own, or who seek to conceal their questionable political activities behind smoke screens and legal argument. These individuals clearly do not appreciate what freedom means. Take for instance our cafeteria contras in Congress who've renamed french fries and french toast to freedom fries and freedom toast. Is this the proper example and protest to make in the name of freedom, our most cherished and founding ideal? From our elected leaders? To proclaim solidarity with the cause of Iraqi freedom by condemning the French for exercising their own freedom to disagree with and question our reasoning and motives? Are the French required to rubber stamp our every move, especially moves so dramatically divergent from international norms and our own history? Are we hypocrites? Bullies? Children? No, no, no, no, no, no, and no. Surely this isn't the vision and expectation of our forefathers.

How do we justify this attitude towards the French, this villification of them? Their leader and figurehead was the first to visit and offer his nations' condolences for our tragic losses on the day of September 11. But their national symbols didn't come crashing down on that day, ours did, so where is their overriding motive? Would we have rushed to war with Iraq if the Louvre had been felled? Honest? Our thirst for revenge is ablaze, so should theirs? By default? Who's forgotten that the greatest gift we've ever received from another nation did not fall that terrible day in September? No, our sweet lady of liberty still stands strong and vigilant. Who could forget that the French have been our friends and brothers since the very beginning of our great nation? Not me. Will our fears and passions for revenge get the better of us, clouding out all we know about ourselves, our friends, and our history?

Not even here in America do citizens believe we should be picking fights around the world for other peoples' freedom. Beyond safeguarding our freedom, homes and families, we're a peace-loving people, though you'd never guess it by looking at the seemingly non-stop skirmishes our leadership has dragged into over the past century. Why would the French differ in this regard, and not more greatly so since the policy and propaganda in this case are not of their own making, and aren't meant to be? Their private companies don't stand to profit from the takeover of Iraq, but actually stand to lose billions, with or without French support. Liberating people around the world is a noble, and still highly debatable, ideal for a freedom-loving people like we are, but it's radical in light of our history and attention spans, and needs to be presented and defended as such.

To the Americans who support the war against Iraq, I have a few questions. Do you do so strictly to "free the Iraqi people", or in acknowledgement of other imperatives? I know it sounds good, and you may have convinced yourself that this is the case, but is it really? Do you understand the ramnifications of this Bush doctrine, the number of wars in the future we must also fight? If we are to be consistent, and finish what we start? Have you projected that? I for one challenge you to look inside yourself and discover what you really believe. How many body bags will it take before we've had enough? How many people will we free? Just enough to conveniently rid ourselves of the "axis of evil"? Or just of Saddam Hussein? What about the rest of the starving and oppressed in the world, and their ruthless and terrorizing leaders? They'll probably have to wait for free trade to save them, the doctrine we've been defending up to this point.

Beyond all the rhetoric, the reality is fear and loyalty are driving us to war with Iraq, with our leaders duly cracking the whip. Despite what you may have heard, our previous approach to the world isn't necessarily broken, as some would have you to believe, at least not for the reasons being given. But boy was our own "efficiency" lacking when it counted. The world didn't irreversibly change because a cast of crusading misfits managed to slip through security and crash a few jumbo jets at a time when Americans were never suspecting such a thing. I'd like to see them try to get away with it now. They'd be torn to pieces. But still there is a lingering fear that we are vulnerable now, even though we've been so for a very, very long time, long before September 11, just unacknowledgly so by most of us enjoying our lives amidst the great economic boom, blissfully unaware of the parallel and sinister rise in terrorist ideology and targeting.

Ever since, our leaders have been feeding this fear and sense of place and loyalty, stoking the fires of our passion and irrationality and in the resulting confusion dusting off and polishing up grandiose visions deemed far too radical to pursue pre-September 11. Give them credit...opportunity knocked, and even before the commercial jets were back in the air, the hawks had taken flight. Meanwhile, rather than reflecting on the hidden costs of our privileged lives of convenience and dominance, and assessing where our paths are leading us and why large majorities of suffering and impoverished people hate us and wish for our destruction, we tune that out and follow the flutes of our seemingly fearless leaders, the true radicals. I admire them for their passion and resolve, and fear them for their tactics, sensitivity and love of secrecy. The bottom line is simple. Across the ocean lie oil fields we have become dependent on for our opulent national lifestyle, and these fields are surrounded by impoverished people who envy and hate us. Will we work to engage them, to influence their thinking and raise their good will, or will we engage in the politically unthinkable, and attack them in an offensive war to preserve our way of life?

Before you dismiss this argument as itself overly radical, ask yourself if you support invading Somalia, Vietnam, Libya and North Korea any time soon to secure "their" freedom? How about Iran? Is consistency and recognition of the actual fortitude this national mission will require to be successful asking for too much? Has there been any real, informed dialogue on any of this? Any forthrightness with the American people? Among the American people? From anyone in the maintream media?

The reality is that if and when we invade a country in the unilateral war against tyranny, as opposed to the global war against terror, we will only do so with popular domestic support for two reasons: our security and our interests, in that order. Liberating other people, especially people with whom we have little to no bond or history, is merely an effect, or pure rhetoric. Honesty tells us that. On the other hand, to save our skins, to secure our homes and families, should it come to that and we be convinced of such an inevitability, we'll invade and liberate any people. Let there be no mistake about that, or of the power, passion and courage we will bring in this most important matter of defense. I warn anyone against taking us lightly in these matters of life and death. We are not, never have been, and never will be a cowardly lot.

The world is a dangerous place. We ought to and will defend our homes, our families, our country, our friends, our neighbors and our freedom, but not anyone else's. Not yet. Not until we are willing to acknowledge all the evil that men do, including our own, here at home, what we've done, what we're doing. The guns, bombs, dictators and devastation we've brought to the four corners of the globe is a reality that's hard to plausibly deny. The corruption, deceit, and crime in our homeland are plainly evident for anyone to see. How many scandals have we found about long after the fact? That would have outraged us and had devastating political and even criminal consequence to those involved had the scandalous affairs come to light in a more timely fashion? How many lone psychos and loose cannons with an agenda or a passion to maim and kill do we have roaming our countrysides, suburbs and highways? Enough I'd say. Enough to say "enough", it's time to get our house in order.

Even the most ardent jingoist can't deny that, either by intent or effect, we've had impacts on the world that have not always been positive, or even well-meaning. Human nature and self-interest being what it is, who would expect less? All the more reason why we as Americans need greater participation in the affairs of our nation, and more oversight into the activities of our elected leaders, not less. We don't need restrictions on liberty, but enhancements in communication and timely information, and less rhetoric and more reasoning behind policies both foreign and domestic. The linkages between politics and economics should also be fair warning against excessive secrecy, as how is one to compete fairly in the market when political insiders with access to classified information and task group strategy sessions can get the early jump?

The bottom line is we need wholesale change in this country, and much more so than just a newly forged missionary zeal to take the fight against terror and tyranny to the world. Weakened dictators like Saddam Hussein are easy to slap around; changing ourselves and shaking off the corruption that infects us is much more difficult. Again, if you think I'm being too radical, too extreme, just take a moment and really think about it. Dry yourself off from the senseless stream of recycled information flowing from the pundits and talk-show hosts in the mainstream media and bask in the sunlight of divergent opinions on the Internet for awhile. Get some color. Then tell me who's extreme.

What you'll find is a lot of praiseworthy deeds we Americans are known for, as well as a competing amount of evidence and testimony that we've made mistakes, sometimes some really big ones, both in the past and in the present. Is your first instinct to automatically tune out this negative information? To ignore or devalue anything that challenges your belief system or your reasoning? To avoid this feeling which is known as cognitive dissonance, swiftly dismissing any non-supportive evidence of your belief system as the work of tricksters, traitors or infidels? It's okay if this is your's a natural instinct. One carefully reinforced in human culture, especially by the halls of power and commerce, who've invested so heavily in this type of research. What's not okay is to give in to it, to let this feeling control your thoughts and pool of available information. Why? The result is repression and ignorance, and we've covered these perils earlier in this appeal. Have we come this far as a country just so we can fall back to where we started?

Everyone makes mistakes, including me, you, and our great nation. Perfection is not an option, or even a desired value, and we needn't worry about it. Self-awareness and integrity, on the other hand, are well within our control, both as individuals and as a nation, and at bottom require taking ownership and accountability for our actions, knowing why we do them, and being aware of their consequent effects. Unfortunately, as the masters of secrecy and plausible deniability, we never own up to anything.

Thus our dilemma. One cannot act with integrity and at the same time duck information that would seem to prove one otherwise. This is called weakness. Strength is facing the conflicting information with open eyes, ears and minds, evaluating, challenging, responding, discrediting, acknowledging and integrating. Engaging. Perhaps more than anything else, reveling in the newfound wellspring of information and global communication we've constructed, and building new alliances and finding novel solutions to age-old problems. Surely this sounds better than plausibile deniability and shock-and-awe warfare, doesn't it? I hope so. Never forget that this is our life, our time, and our place, and we're free to pursue these great adventures and vast challenges ahead with integrity rather than plausible deniability, if we choose to do so. We should. These are heady times, and we are ready people.

So let's get accountable, fix up a spot alongside freedom for integrity on our trophy case, get our own house in order, and then set off to ensure another century of enlightened civilization on this our most precious planet Earth. Better yet, let's raise the bar another notch. Forget about a new American century, since such thinking is far too parochial for the great spirit of our times and for the great depth of our and other peoples' love for freedom. What we're really talking about now is a century of freedom, not just for Americans but for our friends and neighbors abroad, for all peoples, a legacy for all human beings. Only in this pursuit will America fulfill its prophetic promise set forth in the Declaration of Independence, that all men are created equal, and are endowed by their creator with inalienable rights which no person or state may run asunder. It's not a utopian dream my friends, but a reality, and the mandate given to us at our birth as a nation. We can do this. We can endure these growing pains, just as surely as we can secure the liberation of all human beings, cultures and civilization in a freely willing community of independent nations and peoples, each cooperating to keep the others in check, and each preserving its own special character. We can, and we will. I'll be the first to volunteer my services in this war against ignorance, repression and evil, and don't be in the least surprised, once they hear our song, to find the rest of the world, clamoring to join our ranks.

Thank you, and God bless America.

posted by Jimm | 2:38 PM

Monday, April 07, 2003  

War Strategy -- General Reverses "Armchair Generals" Complaint To Aim At Rumsfeld

posted by Jimm | 6:01 PM

An Interesting Article On Democracy, Participation, and Decision Theory

posted by Jimm | 6:00 PM

Saturday, April 05, 2003  

Dear John Letter To LittleGreenFootballs Denizens

And apparently I've been banished. You have to love these people. I've come around to 2 threads, engaged in debate in only 1, and because of all their anguish (not from my arguments being victorious - heck we never got anywhere with any of it - mine were just different) I volunteered to leave them be. For that, I get called a child, get examples of more unsubstantiated threats about evil, and get banned by Charles, the blog leader. Forgive me for saying this, but "Charles, you are a punk, as are many of the confused patriots you welcome on your site, with at least one notable exception being Jack Frost, and banning me after trashing me for not being able to resist coming back is self-serving and typical of the spirit over there." I'm not coming back, but do you really think I was on fixed IP? Geez...we've got a long way to go people in the struggle to free the human mind, even right here in America.>

zulubaby...look around. read the posts before mine. sense the angst and hatred in this space. the contradictions, mean-spirited jokes, and in my mind just blatant cowardice because none of these things would be said in a public forum represented by everyday people

then read mine, and realize I was just playing, and poking, and prodding

my spirit is real, and my mind is free. if you check over at my site, you'll see a spirit unknown around here. just don't go over trying to tear me down.

I'm not a partisan, not a jingoist, not absolutely invested in what I already believe...I'm open-minded, an American, love my country, and love freedom.

it's getting ugly here in the homeland though, like a festering scar, and the only way to try and break through is to engage. to feign the hammer, relax the noose, slip the rose.

America the beautiful.

Reflect on this.


It's draining to channel the energy over in that forum, the mean spirit of it, but instructive to turn it around, and see the chaos ensue. A little resistance and taste of their own medicine and they go running to the safety of registration. Ahhh...the perils of mutual admiration. The enemy is at the gate!

posted by Jimm | 2:11 AM
breathe freedom