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Monday, November 13, 2006

OK well I said I wouldn't do this...But 

we won


I mean this was a landslide

and I have had a smile plastered on my face for days as I see we will stop the clock on the Bush administration

God thank you

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Goodbye. 

.

Time to go my compatriots.


Over 200,000 readings

Thousands of visitors.

Thank you all.

Some parting thoughts. I appreciate the loyal visitors I have had these last few years. It has been almost three years and we started this just to have a dialogue inside a culture that watched the media dissolve and become cheerleaders. Trajan dropped off years ago but we are still friends and both agree that a long, painful and slow recovery from W will begin one day. Though this isn’t the end of his destructive reign, I think the point has been reached where most people realize he is just a pathetic fucking liar, a coward and dry drunk.

I did the best I could to carry on alone and keep your attention. I looked for the best articles I could find and on occasion I wrote an essay. I spent a lot of time in the Kossack community and became one of the top 100 diarists last year.

But realistically this blog will do little to change the world. It was just an outlet to say how much I hated the facists who shit on our flag and our Constitution.

From time to time I will revisit here and write something. Perhaps one day I will simply shut it down.

That said, Godspeed.

For now.

Judah Maccabee

White House Chief of Staff 

resigns

Monday, March 27, 2006

Delta Force Founder Comes Out Against Iraq War 

You have to love it when combat veterans come out against the war. Add this to the growing list of US Military experts, people who did not avoid military service, people who can’t stand silently anymore, speak up.

This fellow though, is special. This is from Eric Haney, the guy who started the first Special Operations Unit known as Delta Force.



Q: What's your assessment of the war in Iraq?

A: Utter debacle. But it had to be from the very first. The reasons were wrong. The reasons of this administration for taking this nation to war were not what they stated. (Army Gen.) Tommy Franks was brow-beaten and ... pursued warfare that he knew strategically was wrong in the long term. That's why he retired immediately afterward. His own staff could tell him what was going to happen afterward.

We have fomented civil war in Iraq. We have probably fomented internecine war in the Muslim world between the Shias and the Sunnis, and I think Bush may well have started the third world war, all for their own personal policies.




Please enjoy, and if you like to share, recommend. Link and more on the flip.


David Kronke, TV critic from dailynews.com, does a little journalism here. Actually this is a lot more journalism than we see in some US news networks.- and this from a TV critic.

Q: What is the cost to our country?

A: For the first thing, our credibility is utterly zero. So we destroyed whatever credibility we had. ... And I say "we," because the American public went along with this. They voted for a second Bush administration out of fear, so fear is what they're going to have from now on.

Our military is completely consumed, so were there a real threat - thankfully, there is no real threat to the U.S. in the world, but were there one, we couldn't confront it. Right now, that may not be a bad thing, because that keeps Bush from trying something with Iran or with Venezuela.

The harm that has been done is irreparable. There are more than 2,000 American kids that have been killed. Tens of thousands of innocent Iraqis have been killed ñ which no one in the U.S. really cares about those people, do they? I never hear anybody lament that fact. It has been a horror, and this administration has worked overtime to divert the American public's attention from it. Their lies are coming home to roost now, and it's gonna fall apart. But somebody's gonna have to clear up the aftermath and the harm that it's done just to what America stands for. It may be two or three generations in repairing.

Q: What do you make of the torture debate? Cheney ...

A: (Interrupting) That's Cheney's pursuit. The only reason anyone tortures is because they like to do it. It's about vengeance, it's about revenge, or it's about cover-up. You don't gain intelligence that way. Everyone in the world knows that. It's worse than small-minded, and look what it does.

I've argued this on Bill O'Reilly and other Fox News shows. I ask, who would you want to pay to be a torturer? Do you want someone that the American public pays to torture? He's an employee of yours. It's worse than ridiculous. It's criminal; it's utterly criminal. This administration has been masters of diverting attention away from real issues and debating the silly. Debating what constitutes torture: Mistreatment of helpless people in your power is torture, period. And (I'm saying this as) a man who has been involved in the most pointed of our activities. I know it, and all of my mates know it. You don't do it. It's an act of cowardice. I hear apologists for torture say, "Well, they do it to us." Which is a ludicrous argument. ... The Saddam Husseins of the world are not our teachers. Christ almighty, we wrote a Constitution saying what's legal and what we believed in. Now we're going to throw it away.

Q: As someone who repeatedly put your life on the line, did some of the most hair-raising things to protect your country, and to see your country behave this way, that must be ...

A: It's pretty galling. But ultimately I believe in the good and the decency of the American people, and they're starting to see what's happening and the lies that have been told. We're seeing this current house of cards start to flutter away. The American people come around. They always do.



Link here: http://www.dailynews.com/entertainment/ci_3641046

Nick Miroff Says 

.

(from Huffington Post)

Has Latin America ever had such a unifying figure?

At political rallies, his visage is held aloft as a beacon to regional independence and self-determination. He's helped forge new trade partnerships to spur economic growth and alleviate poverty. And his leadership has fanned a gale-force electoral trend that's sweeping the hemisphere to topple one pro-Washington government after the next.

Who is this grand inductor of Latin American leftism? Venezuelan fireball Hugo Chavez? Blue-collar Brazilian Lula Ignacio da Silva? Bolivia's coca-farmer-cum-president, Evo Morales?

¡Epa! It's George W. Bush, the accidental revolutionary.

Nick Miroff Says 

.

Has Latin America ever had such a unifying figure?

At political rallies, his visage is held aloft as a beacon to regional independence and self-determination. He's helped forge new trade partnerships to spur economic growth and alleviate poverty. And his leadership has fanned a gale-force electoral trend that's sweeping the hemisphere to topple one pro-Washington government after the next.

Who is this grand inductor of Latin American leftism? Venezuelan fireball Hugo Chavez? Blue-collar Brazilian Lula Ignacio da Silva? Bolivia's coca-farmer-cum-president, Evo Morales?

¡Epa! It's George W. Bush, the accidental revolutionary.

Christopher Hitchens Said this in March 2003 

..

"This will be no war -- there will be a fairly brief and ruthless military intervention.... The president will give an order. [The attack] will be rapid, accurate and dazzling.... It will be greeted by the majority of the Iraqi people as an emancipation. And I say, bring it on."

Atrios Says 

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I know this has been said by others and no matter how many times it is restated paste-eaters like Jeff Goldstein will faily to comprehend but I'll give it one more try.

Imagine if 30 people were killed every day by car bombs in US cities. Monday, 30 dead in Denver. Tuesday, 30 dead in San Francisco. Wednesday, 30 dead in Philadelphia. You get the idea.

Now scale that roughly relative to population size. Make that 300 dead per day. Every day. Would the lead story on the evening news be about all the people who weren't blown up that day? No. The country would be completely hysterical.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

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The Rainwater Prophecy
Richard Rainwater made billions by knowing how to PROFIT FROM A CRISIS. Now he foresees the biggest one yet.
(FORTUNE Magazine)


By OLIVER RYAN
December 26, 2005

(FORTUNE Magazine) – Richard Rainwater doesn't want to sound like a kook. But he's about as worried as a happily married guy with more than $2 billion and a home in Pebble Beach can get. Americans are "in the kind of trouble people shouldn't find themselves in," he says. He's just wary about being the one to sound the alarm.

Rainwater is something of a behind-the-scenes type--at least as far as alpha-male billionaires go. He counts President Bush as a personal friend but dislikes politics, and frankly, when he gets worked up, he says some pretty far-out things that could easily be taken out of context. Such as: An economic tsunami is about to hit the global economy as the world runs out of oil. Or a coalition of communist and Islamic states may decide to stop selling their precious crude to Americans any day now. Or food shortages may soon hit the U.S. Or he read on a blog last night that there's this one gargantuan chunk of ice sitting on a precipice in Antarctica that, if it falls off, will raise sea levels worldwide by two feet--and it's getting closer to the edge.... And then he'll interrupt himself: "Look, I'm not predicting anything," he'll say. "That's when you get a little kooky-sounding."

Rainwater is no crackpot. But you don't get to be a multibillionaire investor--one who's more than doubled his net worth in a decade--through incremental gains on little stock trades. You have to push way past conventional thinking, test the boundaries of chaos, see events in a bigger context. You have to look at all the scenarios, from "A to friggin' Z," as he says, and not be afraid to focus on Z. Only when you've vacuumed up as much information as possible and you know the world is at a major inflection point do you put a hell of a lot of money behind your conviction.

Such insights have allowed Rainwater to turn moments of cataclysm into gigantic paydays before. In the mid-1990s he saw panic selling in Houston real estate and bought some 15 million square feet; now the properties are selling for three times his purchase price. In the late '90s, when oil seemed plentiful and its price had fallen to the low teens, he bet hundreds of millions--by investing in oil stocks and futures--that it would rise. A billion dollars later, that move is still paying off. "Most people invest and then sit around worrying what the next blowup will be," he says. "I do the opposite. I wait for the blowup, then invest."

The next blowup, however, looms so large that it scares and confuses him. For the past few months he's been holed up in hard-core research mode--reading books, academic studies, and, yes, blogs. Every morning he rises before dawn at one of his houses in Texas or South Carolina or California (he actually owns a piece of Pebble Beach Resorts) and spends four or five hours reading sites like LifeAftertheOilCrash.net or DieOff.org, obsessively following links and sifting through data. How worried is he? He has some $500 million of his $2.5 billion fortune in cash, more than ever before. "I'm long oil and I'm liquid," he says. "I've put myself in a position that if the end of the world came tomorrow I'd kind of be prepared." He's also ready to move fast if he spots an opening.

His instincts tell him that another enormous moneymaking opportunity is about to present itself, what he calls a "slow pitch down the middle." But, at 61, wealthier and happier than ever before, Rainwater finds himself reacting differently this time. He's focused more on staying rich than on getting richer. But there's something else too: a sort of billionaire-style civic duty he feels to get a conversation started. Why couldn't energy prices skyrocket, with grave repercussions, not just economic but political? As industry analysts debate whether the world's oil production is destined to decline, the prospect makes him itchy.

"This is a nonrecurring event," he says. "The 100-year flood in Houston real estate was one, the ability to buy oil and gas really cheap was another, and now there's the opportunity to do something based on a shortage of natural resources. Can you make money? Well, yeah. One way is to just stay long domestic oil. But there may be something more important than making money. This is the first scenario I've seen where I question the survivability of mankind. I don't want the world to wake up one day and say, 'How come some doofus billionaire in Texas made all this money by being aware of this, and why didn't someone tell us?'"

***

It feels like the last place you'd go looking for a rich man. Lake City, S.C., is a town of 6,500 in the low country two hours northwest of Charleston. Once the bustling home to small, independent tobacco farmers, now it's mostly a collection of abandoned gas stations, roadside churches, and fading brick walls with TRUST JESUS painted on them in big black letters. Unemployment hovers around 10% and would be worse if the Taiwanese plastics manufacturer Nan Ya hadn't opened up a sprawling factory on the edge of town.

Rainwater spends a lot of time in Lake City because of his wife, Darla Moore. A former star in bankruptcy financing at Chemical Bank who was once dubbed the "toughest babe in business" by FORTUNE, Moore, 51, grew up here. Her grandfather was one of the small tobacco farmers. Nowadays she lives on her grandparents' old farm. (Moore and Rainwater also own a lavish home in Charleston.) Rainwater calls Lake City the "middle of bum-fuck nowhere." But the truth is he's got everything he needs here: cable TV, a telephone, an automatic coffeemaker, a decent golf course up the road, and a fast Internet connection.

Measured against the languid pace of the surroundings, Rainwater's usual surplus of physical energy seems even more pronounced in Lake City. Tall, tan, and sturdily built, he has a hard time sitting still. He's run four marathons and offers that, when he was 40, he unexpectedly set the record in his age group on something called a "modified Balke protocol" treadmill test, a measure of the body's efficiency in absorbing oxygen. Rainwater bounces around the farm in shorts, a polo shirt, and a baseball cap, maintaining a running dialogue with Moore (whom he calls "Precious"), his staff, and anyone else who happens to be within earshot or on his speed dial. "He's maternal," says Moore. "And I'm paternal."

In the ongoing Richard and Darla show, Moore supplies the dry one-liners to his constant chatter. Lately she's been affectionately calling him "Dr. Doom." But she's not dismissing his concerns. Or harboring any illusions that she can talk him out of making a big investment once he settles on a theme. As president of Rainwater Inc. in the '90s, she was his partner in his last two big bets. And though she's at a stage in life where she might prefer to simplify her affairs rather than go off on another wild ride, she knows that soon he'll have to act. "We've been married for 15 years," she says. "This is the third time I've seen this. The massive intake of information has been complete. Now he's agonizing. We're in what I refer to as the raving mode--the latter stages of rave. This is the refinement stage. Then we're going to make decisions."

"It's not raving," he says. "I promise I am not a kook."

"You're kooking out a little. But I've seen the process before. I saw you go from zero to 100 miles per hour in real estate."

"And you saw me get into oil ten years ago," he says, then protests, "But I'm on the edge of being so old that it doesn't matter anymore. I've won the heavyweight championship before. Instead of taking one more swing, maybe I should just retire a winner." Moore's not buying it. "Buckwheat," she says, using her nickname for him, "There's not a chance in a million you won't swing. He can't not. It's the nature of the animal."

***

"Rainwater," the voice on the phone announces. "Now, type L-A-T-O-C into Yahoo, and scroll down to the seventh item." Rainwater doesn't use e-mail. Rather, he uses rapid-fire phone calls to spread the gospel he discovers every morning on the web. One day it might be the decline of arable land in Malaysia. The next it could be the Olduvai theory of per capita energy consumption. "L-A-T-O-C" stands for LifeAfterTheOilCrash.net, a blog edited by Matt Savinar, 27, of Santa Rosa, Calif. (which Rainwater calls "a hotbed for survivalist types"), who was on his way to being a lawyer when his side project began climbing up Google's rankings. The site is now the No. 2 result of a search on "oil." Savinar keeps a running diary of all manner of news and information relating to "peak oil," a once-wonkish geological debate that has recently crossed over not only to late-night talk shows but even onto the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives.

"Peak oil" theorists posit that global production is at or near its historic ceiling and will begin a long, inexorable decline. They worry that America is not ready for the downturn, for skyrocketing prices and even shortages. Savinar's site's opening line is, "Civilization as we know it is coming to an end." Rainwater has been checking it every morning since September, when his personal anxiety alert level moved to orange. "I can almost pinpoint the date," says Moore. "It was right after he read that book."

In August a friend gave Rainwater a copy of The Long Emergency, a dystopic view of the future written by ex-Rolling Stone writer James Kunstler, otherwise known for his passionate dislike of suburbia. Taking peak oil as a given, Kunstler argues that Americans have been "sleepwalking" through the end of a "100-year fossil fuel fiesta." The problem, he points out, is not that the world will run out of oil tomorrow, but rather that the lack of growth in oil production will wreak havoc on a global economic system predicated on perpetual expansion. Kunstler's "long emergency" is a decidedly unpleasant interval during which the world--and Americans in particular--must adapt to a post-oil regime of scarce energy and economic stagnation, a time of likely wars and the disappearance of all-American things like Wal-Mart and cul-de-sac homes 45 minutes by minivan from the office.

Rainwater doesn't completely buy into Kunstler's doom and gloom. "It's the Z scenario," he says. But at the same time, he worries that Kunstler isn't wrong enough, and he's been buying extra copies of the book and passing them around to the many titans of capitalism who are his protégés. It's not the first doomsday book in Rainwater's life: His big bet on oil in the late '90s was kicked off by a work called Beyond the Limits, the sequel to a '70s sensation called The Limits of Growth. Written by three professors armed with an MIT-bred computer called World3, the Limits books projected that, left unchecked, human population would, within 100 years, overshoot the capacity of the planet to serve up sufficient vitamins and minerals--let alone absorb all the waste and pollution--to keep everyone healthy. Rainwater took the book to heart. "Right after I read it, I said, 'They've figured it out, I'm going to follow this thing.' "

His ensuing oil bet was only the latest triumph for the grandson of a Lebanese immigrant (on his mother's side) who, according to family lore, picked up his last name from a Cherokee ancestor. His mother had worked at J.C. Penney to put him and his brother through the University of Texas. In 1970, after a short stint at Goldman Sachs, he joined Stanford Business School pal Sid Bass in managing the Bass family money in Fort Worth. Over the next decade and a half, he helped turn the family's modest $50 million fortune into one worth upwards of $5 billion.

In the process Rainwater's investing style emerged: analytically rigorous but opportunistic and Texas-sized in its audacity. He'd buy public companies or private. He'd use futures and leverage, sometimes 20 to 1. He even started companies. If he thought an idea was right, he put capital behind it. With the Basses, he resurrected the likes of Disney--recruiting Michael Eisner to be CEO--and bet early on cellphones. Later, when he went out on his own in 1986, his office drew a who's who of hard-charging capitalists to Fort Worth. In the heyday of Rainwater Inc., Eddie Lampert, the hedge fund tycoon turned head of Sears Holdings, had a desk, as did Daniel Stern, now of $3 billion Reservoir Capital. Ken Hersh, who has compounded money at 31% annually for 17 years at Natural Gas Partners, started there. With Rick Scott, Rainwater founded Columbia Healthcare, which merged with HCA and became the country's biggest for-profit hospital company (Scott was later forced out as CEO amid a federal fraud investigation). Even George W. Bush kept an office, when he and Rainwater were putting together the Texas Rangers stadium deal.

***

On a Tuesday afternoon in mid-November, Rainwater and Moore are holding court in the 14th-floor conference room of Reservoir Capital in Midtown Manhattan, where he camps out when he's in New York (he has money invested with the fund). He has gathered Reservoir's Stern, Goldman alum and Crestview Partners co-founder Barry Volpert, and a couple of guests, and he is expounding on the implications of the peak-oil theory: "I believe in Hubbert's Peak. I came out of Texas. I watched oil fields reach peak and go over, and I've watched how people would do all they could, put whatever amount of money into the field, and they couldn't do anything about it."

In the 1940s and 1950s, a Shell geologist named M. King Hubbert observed that the production from any given oil field follows a bell curve, with annual volumes increasing until half the oil in the field is depleted, and declining thereafter. Basically, the bottom oil is harder to extract. King reasoned that production from all U.S. fields would follow a similar curve and predicted in 1956 that total U.S. oil production would peak in the early 1970s. His analysis caused a furor and was widely disparaged, but proved correct. "Hubbert's Peak" entered the lexicon of oil analysis--one of the great geological I-told-you-so's. Forty-nine years later, a growing number of noted geologists and industry analysts suggest that the global oil supply may now be topping out, a claim that has been met by skepticism from yet other geologists and economists who say higher prices will spawn both more discovery and improved recovery from existing fields.

Rainwater sides with the imminent peak crowd, and can rattle off facts to back up his argument. "In 1988 there were 15 million barrels a day of shut-in production"--meaning surplus that could be tapped--"and the world was using about 55 million barrels of oil. Today the world is using over 80 million, and there's no shut-in production left. We've used it up, through the combination of depletion and growth." In other words, the spigot can't be opened any wider.

What concerns him most is the conflict that he thinks an oil shortage will precipitate. What happens when people get blindsided by prices rocketing past any level they have contemplated--especially when you factor in other challenges America faces? "We've got a lot of things going on simultaneously," he says. "The world as we know it is unwinding with respect to Social Security, pensions, Medicare. We're going to have dramatically increased taxes in the U.S. I believe we're going into a world where there's going to be more hostility. More people are going to be asking, 'Why did God do this to us?' Whatever God they worship. Alfred Sloan said it a long time ago at General Motors, that we're giving these things during good times. What happens in bad times? We're going to have to take them back, and then everybody will riot.' And he's right."

***

Part of Rainwater's routine when he's down on the farm is to go for gizzards at Allison's, a no-frills truck stop up the road. Driving in a red BMW SUV on the Tuesday before Thanksgiving, he points out who lives where: the local doctor, the Taiwanese Nan Ya workers. He chokes up momentarily passing the home of a woman who worked at the farm, whose son has just returned from serving in Iraq. The sheer incongruity of his wealth in Lake City is not lost on him. But at Allison's he seems right at home, lathering the deep-fried gizzards with hot sauce and self-serving a large coffee which he spices at the hot chocolate machine.

Back on the farm that night, he and Moore discuss future projects with their landscaper, Jenks Farmer, over a glass of wine. Farmer, who has a master's in horticulture and lives on the property, maintains Moore's extensive gardens, including vegetable beds that produce all year round. That morning Rainwater had been surfing the web, researching greenhouses in his quest to further ensure a steady flow of food through the winter. At his prodding, Moore has installed an emergency generator and 500-gallon storage tanks for diesel fuel and water. When Rainwater says that he's thinking about opening a for-profit survivability center, it's not entirely clear that he's joking.

Later in the night Rainwater returns to musing on how different his lot is from the residents of Lake City. And then, returning to the debate in his head, he gets a serious look on his face and says: "This is going to get a little religious. I ask why I was blessed with this insightfulness. Everyone who has achieved something, scientists, ballplayers, thinks they were given their talent for a reason. Why me? Was I given this insightfulness at this particular time? Or was I just given this insightfulness?" He pauses. "I just want people to look out. 'Cause it could be bad." FEEDBACK oryan@fortunemail.com

Worry
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A Soldier Speaks



"I never hear that because we all here know the good news stories are bullshit and do not really affect the mission in any way. It's like this thing we keep saying here about all the new people we've recruited for the iraqi police. It leaves out the fact that my platoon was in a 40 minute gun fight with the iraqi police. So you recruited more of them ... awesome! I am sure that will make everything better. Also, they don't do ANYTHING. They don't even leave their building, and that is not an exaggeration. They don't. So what good is a billion-man police force that doesn't do anything? Also, they get almost no training. They tried to stand up some kind of mentoring initiative here using the guardsmen that are civilian cops, but it so far has fallen through. They will get set up to be killed, as is already suspected of the THREE SVBIEDs that have hit their station. Inside jobs, all. During our fight with them, we picked up the police chief (who was riding in a car that was shooting at a coalition vehicle -- an M1A1. You know how that story ends) and he was with a guy (who it turned out was his nephew) who had this radical islamic terrorist literature on him. It would be a joke if it weren't costing our lives.

"the iraqi army is making progress and we're handing over more and more to them everyday." Complete bullshit. What's the good news in the fact that all their logistics, medical, engineering, staff function, etc. is being done by us? ALL OF IT. And PS, they're not being trained on any of the other shit, either, except a broken medical training program.

You can clearly see by reading the news how much it matters that X number of people have power now. The bottom line is, the overwhelming majority of people live in fear. We can do NOTHING to help them. We don't have anywhere near the manpower, and our actions are too severely restricted. Good thing 2500 people died for this.

What are the good news stories? I would love to hear them. Spare me the heart warming tales of a single family or school or neighborhood that was helped. Operation Iraqi Freedom is, at this point, an abject failure. This is the most dangerous place on earth and it's getting worse, not better.

Also, you have to consider that our definition of good news is not the iraqi definition of good news. These people are not americans. Culturally, they do not respect or appreciate the same things we do. "Our neighborhood has power now! It's about time, infidels. What about the water?" "Hey, thanks for the medicine for our clinic! I'm still totally supporting the insurgency, but at least i can provide them better medical care now." Giving them shit does not win their allegiance. They don't think, "wow, I was wrong about americans." It just gives them shit.

The "we don't hear good news from Iraq" mindset is one that is totally ignorant of Iraqi culture. There is no good news. There's a bunch of people getting handed shit, and it doesn't change a single thing."

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Hello 902nd Military Intelligence Group 


Thursday, March 23, 2006

out fishing 

back on sunday

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

How to spot a baby conservative 

Link: http://www.thestar.com/NASApp/cs/ContentServer?pagename=thestar/Layout/Article_Type1&c=Article&cid=1142722231554&call_pageid=970599119419

Toronto Star





Remember the whiny, insecure kid in nursery school, the one who always thought everyone was out to get him, and was always running to the teacher with complaints? Chances are he grew up to be a conservative.

At least, he did if he was one of 95 kids from the Berkeley area that social scientists have been tracking for the last 20 years. The confident, resilient, self-reliant kids mostly grew up to be liberals.

The study from the Journal of Research Into Personality isn't going to make the UC Berkeley professor who published it any friends on the right. Similar conclusions a few years ago from another academic saw him excoriated on right-wing blogs, and even led to a Congressional investigation into his research funding.

But the new results are worth a look. In the 1960s Jack Block and his wife and fellow professor Jeanne Block (now deceased) began tracking more than 100 nursery school kids as part of a general study of personality. The kids' personalities were rated at the time by teachers and assistants who had known them for months. There's no reason to think political bias skewed the ratings * the investigators were not looking at political orientation back then. Even if they had been, it's unlikely that 3- and 4-year-olds would have had much idea about their political leanings.

A few decades later, Block followed up with more surveys, looking again at personality, and this time at politics, too. The whiny kids tended to grow up conservative, and turned into rigid young adults who hewed closely to traditional gender roles and were uncomfortable with ambiguity.

The confident kids turned out liberal and were still hanging loose, turning into bright, non-conforming adults with wide interests. The girls were still outgoing, but the young men tended to turn a little introspective.

Block admits in his paper that liberal Berkeley is not representative of the whole country. But within his sample, he says, the results hold. He reasons that insecure kids look for the reassurance provided by tradition and authority, and find it in conservative politics. The more confident kids are eager to explore alternatives to the way things are, and find liberal politics more congenial.

In a society that values self-confidence and out-goingness, it's a mostly flattering picture for liberals. It also runs contrary to the American stereotype of wimpy liberals and strong conservatives.

Of course, if you're studying the psychology of politics, you shouldn't be surprised to get a political reaction. Similar work by John T. Jost of Stanford and colleagues in 2003 drew a political backlash. The researchers reviewed 44 years worth of studies into the psychology of conservatism, and concluded that people who are dogmatic, fearful, intolerant of ambiguity and uncertainty, and who crave order and structure are more likely to gravitate to conservatism. Critics branded it the "conservatives are crazy" study and accused the authors of a political bias.

Jost welcomed the new study, saying it lends support to his conclusions. But Jeff Greenberg, a social psychologist at the University of Arizona who was critical of Jost's study, was less impressed.
.


Nobody knows what will transpire between now and November and how much intensity each party's voters will have, but as of now, Democrats have a pronounced intensity advantage and enough of one to probably outweigh the GOP organizational edge.

Good news

------

The charge that the administration is all thumbs is gaining steam and it's not coming from just die-hard Democrats. I think of it as the nondenominational argument, one that stretches across the political spectrum. Its resonance explains the polls showing independents and even some Republicans losing heart. Debates about whether we should be in Iraq have given way to doubts about whether we can recover from our blunders. As the body count mounts, and as the tales and pictures of horror multiply, the doubts grow.

While Bush now concedes those doubts and has begun to confront them more directly, Cheney adds to them every time he opens his pie hole. On Sunday, asked on CBS about his claim three years ago that "we will be greeted as liberators" and one last year that the insurgency was in its "last throes," he insisted both claims were accurate and blamed the media for distorting the facts. Echoes of Vietnam there - right down to spreading B.S. and blaming the messenger for the odor. He should just put a sock in it.

Now they figure this out

Jane Smiley Has Help For those who just Discovered W is an asshat 

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Bruce Bartlett, The Cato Institute, Andrew Sullivan, George Packer, William F. Buckley, Sandra Day O'Connor, Republican voters in Indiana and all the rest of you newly-minted dissenters from Bush's faith-based reality seem, right now, to be glorying in your outrage, which is always a pleasure and feels, at the time, as if it is having an effect, but those of us who have been anti-Bush from day 1 (defined as the day after the stolen 2000 election) have a few pointers for you that should make your transition more realistic.

1. Bush doesn't know you disagree with him. Nothing about you makes you of interest to George W. Bush once you no longer agree with and support him. No degree of relationship (father, mother, etc.), no longstanding friendly intercourse (Jack Abramoff), no degree of expertise (Brent Scowcroft), no essential importance (Tony Blair, American voters) makes any difference. There is nothing you have to
offer that makes Bush want to know you once you have come to disagree with him. Your opinions and feelings now exist in a world entirely external to the mind of George W. Bush. You are now just one of those "polls" that he pays no attention to. When you were on his side, you thought that showed "integrity" on his part. It doesn't. It shows an absolute inability to learn from experience.

2. Bush doesn't care whether you disagree with him. As a man who has dispensed with the reality-based world, and is entirely protected by his handlers from feeling the effects of that world, he is indifferent to what you now think is real. Is the Iraq war a failure and a quagmire? Bush doesn't care. Is global warming beginning to affect us right now? So what. Have all of his policies with regard to Iran been misguided and counter-productive? He never thinks about it. You know that Katrina tape in which Bush never asked a question? It doesn't matter how much you know or how passionately you feel or, most importantly, what degree of disintegration you see around you, he's not going to ask you a question. You and your ideas are dead to him. You cannot change his mind. Nine percent of polled Americans would agree with attacking Iran right now. To George Bush, that will be a mandate, if and when he feels like doing it, because...

3. Bush does what he feels like doing and he deeply resents being told, even politely, that he ought to do anything else. This is called a "sense of entitlement". Bush is a man who has never been anywhere and never done anything, and yet he has been flattered and cajoled into being president of the United States through his connections, all of whom thought they could use him for their own purposes. He has a surface charm that appeals to a certain type of American man, and he has used that charm to claim all sorts of perks, and then to fail at everything he has ever done. He did not complete his flight training, he failed at oil investing, he was a front man and a glad-hander as a baseball owner. As the Governor of Texas, he originated one educational program that turned out to be a debacle; as the President of the US, his policies have constituted one screw-up after another. You have stuck with him through all of this, made excuses for him, bailed him out. From his point of view, he is perfectly entitled by his own experience to a sense of entitlement. Why would he ever feel the need to reciprocate? He's never had to before this.

4. President Bush is your creation. When the US Supreme Court humiliated itself in 2000 by handing the presidency to Bush even though two of the justices (Scalia and Thomas) had open conflicts of interest, you did not object. When the Bush administration adopted an "Anything but Clinton" policy that resulted in ignoring and dismissing all warnings of possible terrorist attacks on US soil, you went along with and made excuses for Bush. When the Bush administration allowed the corrupt Enron corporation to swindle California ratepayers and taxpayers in a last ditch effort to balance their books in 2001, you laughed at the Californians and ignored the links between Enron and the administration. When it was evident that the evidence for the war in Iraq was cooked and that State Department experts on the Middle East were not behind the war and so it was going to be run as an exercise in incompetence, you continued to attack those who were against the war in vicious terms and to defend policies that simply could not work. On intelligent design, global warming, doctoring of scientific results to reflect ideology, corporate tax giveaways, the K Street project, the illegal redistricting of Texas, torture at Gitmo and Abu Ghraib, the Terry Schiavo fiasco, and the cronyism that led to the destruction of New Orleans you have failed to speak out with integrity or honesty, preferring power to truth at every turn. Bush does what he wants because you have let him.

5. Tyranny is your creation. What we have today is the natural and inevitable outcome of ideas and policies you have promoted for the last generation. I once knew a guy who was still a Marxist in 1980. Whenever I asked him why Communism had failed in Russia and China, he said "Mistakes were made". He could not believe that Marxism itself was at fault, just as you cannot believe that the ideology of the unregulated free market has created the world we live in today. You are tempted to say: "Mistakes have been made", but in fact, psychologically and sociologically, no mistakes have been made. The unregulated free market has operated to produce a government in its own image. In an unregulated free market, for example, cheating is merely another sort of advantage that, supposedly, market forces might eventually "shake out" of the system. Of course, anyone with common sense understands that cheaters do damage that sometimes cannot be repaired before they are "shaken out", but according to the principles of the unregulated free market, the victims of that sort of damage are just out of luck and the damage that happens to them is just a sort of "culling". It is no accident that our government is full of cheaters--they learned how to profit from cheating when they were working in corporations that were using bribes, perks, and secret connections to cheat their customers of good products, their neighbors of healthy environmental conditions, their workers of workplace safety and decent paychecks. It was only when the corporations began cheating their shareholders that any of you squealed, but you should know from your own experience that the unregulated free market as a "level playing field" was the biggest laugh of the 20th century. No successful company in the history of capitalism has ever favored open competition. When you folks pretended, in the eighties, that you weren't using the ideology of the free market to cover your own manipulations of the playing field to your own advantage, you may have suckered yourselves, and even lots of American workers, but observers of capitalism since Adam Smith could have told you it wasn't going to work.

And then there was the way you used racism and religious intolerance to gain and hold onto power. Nixon was cynical about it--taking the party of Lincoln and reaching out to disaffected southern racists, drumming up a backlash against the Civil Rights movement for the sake of votes, but none of you has been any less vicious. Racism might have died an unlamented death in this country, but you kept it alive with phrases like "welfare queen" and your resistance to affirmative action and taxation for programs to help people in our country with nothing, or very little. You opted not to take the moral high ground and recognize that the whole nation would be better off without racism, but rather to increase class divisions and racial divisions for the sake of your own comfort, pleasure, and profit. You have used religion in exactly the same way. Instead of strongly defending the constitutional separation of church and state, you have encouraged radical fundamentalist sects to believe that they can take power in the US and mold our secular government to their own image, and get rich doing it. The US could have become a moderating force in what seems now to be an inevitable battle among the three monotheistic Abrahamic religions, but you have made that impossible by flattering and empowering our own violent and intolerant Christian right.

You have created an imperium, heedless of the most basic wisdom of the Founding Fathers--that at the very least, no man is competent enough or far-seeing enough to rule imperially. Checks and balances were instituted by Madison, Jefferson, Franklin, and the rest of them not because of some abstract distrust of power, but because they had witnessed the screw-ups and idiocies of unchecked power. You yourselves have demonstrated the failures of unchecked power--in an effort to achieve it, you have repeatedly contravened the expressed wishes of most Americans, who favor a moderate foreign policy, reasonable domestic programs, a goverrnment that works, environmental preservation, women's rights to contraception, abortion, and a level playing field. Somehow you thought you could mold the imperium to reflect your wishes, but guess what--that's what an imperium is--one man rule. If you fear the madness of King George, you have no recourse if you've given up the checks and balances that you inherited and that were meant to protect you.

Your ideas and your policies have promoted selfishness, greed, short-term solutions, bullying, and pain for others. You have looked in the faces of children and denied the existence of a "common good". You have disdained and denied the idea of "altruism". At one time, our bureaucracy was full of people who had gone into government service or scientific research for altruistic reasons--I knew, because I knew some of them. You have driven them out and replaced them with vindictive ignoramuses. You have lied over and over about your motives, for example, making laws that hurt people and calling it "originalist interpretations of the Constitution" (conveniently ignoring the Ninth Amendment). You have increased the powers of corporations at the expense of every other sector in the nation and actively defied any sort of regulation that would require these corporations to treat our world with care and respect. You have made economic growth your deity, and in doing so, you have accelerated the power of the corporations to destroy the atmosphere, the oceans, the ice caps, the rainforests, and the climate. You have produced CEOs in charge of lots of resources and lots of people who have no more sense of reciprocity or connection or responsibility than George W. Bush.

Now you are fleeing him, but it's only because he's got the earmarks of a loser. Your problem is that you don't know why he's losing. You think he's made mistakes. But no. He's losing because the ideas that you taught him and demonstrated for him are bad ideas, self-destructive ideas, and even suicidal ideas. And they are immoral ideas. You should be ashamed of yourselves because not only have your ideas not worked to make the world a better place, they were inhumane and cruel to begin with, and they have served to cultivate and excuse the inhumane and cruel character traits of those who profess them.

6. As Bad as Bush is, Cheney is Worse.

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