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I had planned on writing a post today, but my time has been taken up by watching a 2006 program from the BBC called The Century of the Self (h/t to Mike’s Blog Round Up over at C&L).  I literally have not been able to stop watching, and am now only pausing between episodes to post this.

Regular readers of this blog know that I often focus on the intersection between psychology and politics. I have written at length (probably way too much) about how I believe terror management theory is being used by certain politicians and others with an interest in maintaining the status quo in order to manipulate the American public, particularly at election time, but also on an ongoing basis to distract the public from the extremely long list of scandals flowing from the alleged president’s office. I have also written on the nexus between politics and psychology in other contexts.

What a lot of it comes down to is how the people in power (in government and the corporate world) use psychological research as a means of, if not precisely controlling, at least manipulating or occasionally anesthetizing the masses.

The BBC program focuses on similar themes, but starts at an earlier point in time. It begins with the early works of Freud and how those works were used to manipulate people in the early part of the twentieth century, in the then-developing field of public relations. It is both fascinating and disturbing, and I strongly encourage you, my dear non-existent readers, to take the time to watch it.

I’ll even make it easy for you by embedding the first episode (there are apparently four) below.

jane doe


Ever get a song stuck in your head?

One that cycles through over and over and over whenever you aren’t actively using enough of your attention and working memory on other things to keep it suppressed?

It’s a pretty common phenomenon, actually. Happens to most people occasionally.

Lately, it seems like it’s happening to me nearly every day.

Ordinarily, this doesn’t bother me much. It’s just one of those things my brain seems to do. And it usually does it with long enough segments of the song in question that at least it’s not the same line from the chorus being repeated endlessly on a loop. One day last week, for instance, I had about forty seconds of Lost in the Supermarket running through my head. There are worse things in life.

Sometimes, if I concentrate, and if it’s a song I know well enough, I can actually get the complete mental playback, start to finish. Complete with guitars, drums, and backing vocals. I find that the process of doing this often works to help my brain finally put the song aside.

Actually playing the song on the stereo or my computer can also work to get it out of my brain, if I sit and listen to it attentively.

And then there are the times when the song that is stuck going through my head is some sort of novelty song. These can be particularly bad.

Once, several years ago, I had a three day stretch where I couldn’t get the chorus of Nellie the Elephant out of my head. It was awful, particularly when I was trying to fall asleep. It was just, “Nellie the elephant packed her trunk/and said goodbye to the circus,” over and over and over until I thought I would go mad. I still cringe when I think about it.

That’s kind of where I am today.

Today’s song has been Roy Zimmerman’s song about Dick Cheney. Just a few lines, over and over. It’s very disturbing.

I actually really like Roy Zimmerman’s music. He is kind of a present-day Tom Lehrer, which is nice, since the real Tom Lehrer doesn’t find the news funny enough to be writing songs about it any more. I’ve even purchased several of his albums from iTunes.

What I do not like, is having the chorus of the Dick Cheney song going through my head.

So on the theory that misery loves company, I’ve decided to do something I don’t ordinarily do in this blog: I’m going to try to post the YouTube video of it here, so the rest of you can suffer along with me.

If this works the way I think it’s supposed to work, the video should appear right below my signature. Wish me luck.

jane doe

I’m going to say right up front that this post is aimed at the women among my non-existent readers.

Guys are welcome to stay around and read the rest of the post if you want to. I’m not planning on talking about chick flicks, or shoes, or any of the other things men seem to think women talk about when no men are present. It’s just that the things I have to say will more likely be of concern to women than men.

I want to talk about John McCain and women today.

Perhaps, I should be more specific, though. I don’t want to talk about the fact that he cheated on his former wife with the woman who is now his wife, or the fact that he divorced her after a serious car accident apparently left her not pretty enough for him. Though I think both of those facts say rather a lot about the kind of man John McCain is.

Neither do I want to talk about McCain’s positions on women’s issues, atrocious though they may be. Although I would caution any Hillary Clinton supporters who are thinking about voting for McCain because they are angry that she didn’t get the Democratic party nomination to look carefully at his positions on matters like abortion, family planning, and equal pay before revenge voting in November.

No, I don’t want to talk about McCain’s position on women’s issues. I want to talk about his issues with women.

This past week, a story surfaced about a joke McCain told back in 1986. A wildly inappropriate joke regardless of the setting, involving a woman and a gorilla.

It’s hardly the first wildly inappropriate joke the man has told – witness his singing of “Bomb, bomb Iran,” and his comment about the cigarettes the United States is exporting to that country being “one way to kill them.” But this one is part of a subset of his inappropriate jokes and comments that suggest some troubling things about McCain’s character.

I think that John McCain is a bully.

More specifically, I think that he is the kind of bully who gets off on making women feel powerless. Vulnerable.

Let’s examine the evidence, shall we?

We’ll start not with the story that surfaced this week, but rather a joke the man told during the Clinton presidency. I don’t feel like googling the thing to get the exact words, but the gist of the joke – and here I am stretching the word joke well beyond its definitional limits solely because that is how others have described the remark –  was that Chelsea Clinton was ugly because Janet Reno was her father.

What a breathtakingly cruel thing to say of a teenage girl.

Having been a teenage girl at one time in my life, I feel comfortable in saying that there was probably very little he could have said of her that would have hurt her worse than that casual remark. Most teenagers, and particularly most teenage girls, are insecure about their appearance. It comes with the territory. They are in that awkward transition between childhood and young adulthood, when hormonal changes and social pressures and the process of growing into independent individuals separate from their families tend to combine to produce a perfect storm of angst.

To have someone, some senator, say she was ugly in such a public way just to get a laugh could not have felt good. Even if she could shake it off, and shrug to her friends and say, “What an asshole,” that sort of comment initially hits you like a punch in the stomach and can linger to eat away at your confidence for years.

So, strike one against John McCain.

There have also been reports that McCain called his wife – his current wife, that is – a cunt.

Guys, if any of you are still reading this, let me give you a hint:

Never, ever call your wife or girlfriend a cunt.

Just, don’t.

It’s okay, if crude, to use the word to refer to that portion of her anatomy if you find the term vagina too clinical. (“The gynecologist sticks this thing into your cunt? EWWWW.”) And it’s not completely off-limits during an argument (“What crawled up your cunt and died?”), though its use will probably have you sleeping on the couch for a few nights. Used judiciously under the right circumstances, the word can even be arousing. (“When I touch you like this, can you feel it down in your cunt?”)

But when you call a woman a cunt, when you say the words, “You are a cunt,” or “You cunt,” you are verbally reducing her to nothing more than that portion of her anatomy. Not a human being, a person with complex hopes and fears and dreams. Not a partner in your life, someone to walk through the world beside you, to share your laughter and sorrows. Just a receptacle for your sperm, to be used when the urge hits and otherwise ignored, unimportant.

Some might argue that calling a woman a cunt is no different than calling a guy a dick, but I strongly disagree. It’s about power dynamics in society. The men are the ones who have most of the power in the world. They build war monuments that are really nothing more than huge phallic symbols, and don’t even get me started on the whole Freudian thing with guns and missiles and other weapons. So to call a guy a dick doesn’t carry the same simultaneously devaluing and threatening overtones toward the guy that calling a woman a cunt does toward her. If anything, a guy who is a dick would be more of a threat to the people around him.

But when you call a woman a cunt, you are reducing her to that one function. Something that exists solely for a man’s pleasure, something that is interchangeable with some other cunt should the man tire of this one.

When you call a woman a cunt, you remind her that in a world full of men who are dicks, she is vulnerable.

Men are the conquerors, the invaders, the destroyers. Not all of them, maybe not even most of them, but enough of them that we know that they are there, a threat to us. Our bodies are literally open to the threat of invasion against our will.

Which brings me around to this week’s revelation about that “joke” that McCain told, back in 1986. The one that his campaign staffers are trying to shrug off with statements about McCain’s “bad boy” side.

I’m not sure why one would even call it a joke, or find it funny. It apparently involved a woman who was beaten and then raped repeatedly by a gorilla. The punchline is that when she wakes up after the attack, the first thing she asks the doctor is, “Where is that marvelous ape?”

As if a woman who was beaten and then raped repeatedly (and apparently those were the terms McCain used when telling this wonderful joke) would ask longingly about her attacker.

As if this were matter worthy of a few chuckles over dinner.

Women don’t generally find much to laugh about when talking about rape.

For one thing, far too many among us have been raped. It’s hard to say how many, because so many go unreported, for a variety of reasons. Date rapes, girls who get too drunk at parties and wake up with memories of things they would never have consented to when sober, things that fall into a gray area where the woman or girl is afraid of reporting it because people will somehow say or think that they deserved it, because they wore short skirts, or got drunk, or went to a guy’s apartment, or let themselves be alone with the wrong guy.

And before you ask, no, I have not been raped. I consider myself rather fortunate in this respect because there were a couple of situations in my undergrad days that could have turned ugly for me but didn’t. I have many female friends who were not as lucky.

A friend from law school once posited, as we sat around a table eating horrible fast food between our classes, that in our society, every woman, or nearly every woman, has some experience, some moment in her life that forces on her the awareness of her vulnerability on a physical level. When that moment comes (usually in one’s late teens or twenties, though it can come earlier or later), it is a very shocking awakening for the woman or girl who previously felt relatively safe or protected in the world.

My friend wasn’t talking about the kind of awareness that one gets when one hears lectures on the subject of date rape at freshman orientation, that abstract sort of awareness that, yeah, okay, this is something that can happen, but it probably will never happen to me.

She was talking about the kind of awareness that grabs hold of one with an icy fist and says, “You are vulnerable. You can be beaten, or raped, or killed, and there’s not much you can do to defend yourself, because they are men and you are a woman. You are weak, and they are strong.”

Sitting at that table on the day when my friend talked about her theory were perhaps seven or eight other young women, myself included. All well-educated, mostly self-assured, secure in our knowledge that we could do just as well as our male classmates when we went out into the business world. All women with the sort of forceful personality it takes to even consider entering the field of law. We were ready to take on the world, and no one was going to stop us.

And every single one of us started nodding when she finished telling us her theory.

Each one of us had some definite moment in time that she could point to, some event that happened or very nearly happened, and say, “This is when I knew.”

And every woman I’ve discussed this theory with since that day has had that moment experience at some point in her life.

After that moment, the little reminders are there, popping up in random places as you go about your life, just in case you should forget your vulnerability. Little things that say, “You are weak.” And no matter how much you work out at the gym, or how many self-defense classes you take, those reminders never quite lose their power.

There are men in the world who play on that vulnerability. I don’t mean the obvious ones who do it within the context of intimate relationships, though certainly there are plenty of those running around.

I’m talking about the type who wear business suits, and spend their days working on business deals, negotiating, trading, bargaining, arguing, walking the corridors of power and getting stuff done, who welcome women into the board rooms and conference rooms and offices because the law requires them to, but still use their physical presence as a way of asserting their dominance over women. They are particularly likely to use it when it gains them a business advantage, but also sometimes when it doesn’t, just because they can.

You usually see these men, and they are usually among the taller men in the room if they are playing this particular game, looming over the women who are present. One I knew of would stand nearly toe-to-toe with a woman when negotiations became particularly heated, forcing the woman to tilt her head back and look up at him, trying to take advantage of that feeling of vulnerability.

Sometimes this works rather well for the men. They get concessions in the negotiations as the women both literally and metaphorically back away from their original position.

Sometimes it works…less well. I ran into a few guys back in my lawyer days who tried to use this tactic on me. The thing is, I am 5’9″ – six feet tall in heels (and back in my lawyer days I almost always wore heels). Relatively few men are able to truly tower over me, and a good percentage of the ones who can play basketball professionally. More often what happened was that they would stand up to start the game, and then I would stand up and look them more or less directly in the eye, no head tilting required, which led to a few priceless facial expressions when they realized they weren’t going to win that particular game.

But I digress.

Men who lack the physical presence to play these power games so blatantly in the business world often find other ways to remind women of their vulnerability, however, as a way of asserting power in social situations.

Some of them tell off-color jokes, or at least say words in a voice that suggests that they are joking. Sometimes those jokes are about rape or physical violence directed at women.

Which brings us back to Senator McCain.

His staffers have tried to play off the gorilla joke as something that he doesn’t remember telling, but certainly might have said, and claim that it’s just a reflection of his “bad boy” side.

Because he’s a maverick, that McCain is, no matter how many times he’s supported Bush’s proposals over the past eight years. You just can’t control a maverick. It’s part of his charm.

News flash, guys. Picking on teenage girls, calling one’s wife a cunt, and making jokes about rape don’t make one a maverick or a bad boy.

In my book, things like this say bully. And that’s what I think McCain is.

There are other examples of this sort of behavior from the man, abuse directed at people less powerful, that I could have cataloged here but chose not to. A little googling would turn up several of them within minutes. But I think that, at least for my own purposes, the three incidents I’ve written about are sufficient for me to draw the conclusion that I have.

John McCain is a bully.

And if there is one thing this country does not need right now, after the last eight years, it is to have another bully in the White House for the next four.

jane doe

Update: I wrote this post yesterday, but found this site today. It’s a much lighter take on John McCain and women’s issues.

So apparently, this November, voters in the city of San Francisco will be asked to approve a measure that would rename one of the city’s larger sewage treatment plants in honor of our alleged president. (h/t C&L)

Makes sense to me.

The measure is almost certain to pass because, well, it’s San Francisco, and they do that sort of thing there. The only place it would be more certain of passing would be across the Bay in Berkeley.

But why stop there? There’s all sorts of karmically appropriate re-naming we could do to “honor” this band of idiots:

  • The Alberto Gonzales Center for the Study and Treatment of Memory Disorders
  • The Karl Rove Toxic Waste Storage Facility
  • The Scooter Libby Men’s Correctional Facility
  • The Congressional Democratic Leadership Spinal Surgery Center

I’m having a bit of trouble coming up with something fitting for Dick Cheney, though. I initially wanted to use his name for the toxic waste dump, but Karl Rove seemed more appropriate there given his political tactics. I thought of picking some place that nobody likes, like Waco or Tooele, and just slapping his name on it, but he might take that as a compliment. Perhaps naming some stretch of beach that has become unusable due to an oil spill? Or a particularly nasty land fill? Or how about a slaughterhouse?

Ewww. That last one left me with kind of a bad mental image. Okay, game over.

Perhaps it would just be easier to impeach the bastards and be done with it.

jane doe

At any given moment, I am probably part-way through a half dozen books or so. I tend to fill many of the hours that I don’t spend working or writing with reading, and always have.

Lately there is one book that I keep going back to, though. It’s called Defying Hitler. It’s a memoir by Sebastian Haffner, who was a boy in Germany during World War I and the chaos that followed in that country, and who grew to manhood over the time period when Hitler was rising to power.

The book, or at least large portions of it, was actually written during just prior to the start of World War II. It starts with a look back over the Germany of the author’s childhood and young adulthood, focusing on the conditions in German society and the German psyche that ultimately allowed a madman like Hitler to come to the fore. It’s a fascinating read, and I highly recommend it.

It’s been said that those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it. Reading through this book and others, one cannot help but be struck by the parallels that exist between our world here today in the United States and pre-World War II Germany. Certainly, some aspects of it are different, but the similarities are there for those who would see them:

  • The increasingly authoritarian central executive who keeps stealing away our civil liberties in the name of protecting our “freedom”.
  • The demonization of liberals by pundits and in the press.
  • The mindless nationalism and bigotry, in which the immigrants who made this country what it is today are shunned as dangerous outsiders, and in which true patriotism and loyalty to the founding principles and laws of our nation are replaced by mindless loyalty to the flag and the president.

I could go on, but it’s late and I’m tired.

The point is, that the parallels are there for those who wish to see them. Oh, they take a slightly different flavor here in America – certainly the positive emphasis on Christianity, particularly of the evangelical variety, rather than the more blatant negative emphasis on hatred of Jews and other minority groups that was seen in Germany, is one example (though one cannot help but infer at times that the fanatic proclamation of one’s love for Jesus is really a thinly – or even not so thinly – veiled expression of disdain for those of other faiths, or of no faith).

All of it has me wondering, as I look at current events, is it fascism yet?

I’m not alone in raising this possibility. In Sinclair Lewis’s It Can’t Happen Here, he famously suggested that, “When fascism came to America, it will be wrapped in the flag, carrying a cross.” More recently, Joe Conason’s It Can Happen Here (another book I am halfway through) points out the troubling rise in an authoritarianism that is based in corporate power and and religion. Chris Hedges makes a similar case in American Fasicists: The Christian RIght and the War on America (yet another book on the partially read list). And earlier this year, Keith Olbermann called our alleged president a fascist, subject-verb-object.

Is it fascism yet?

I don’t know the answer to this question. Part of the trouble is coming up with a good working definition of what constitutes fascism, what its defining characteristics are. There seem to be as many definitions as there are authors writing on the subject – witness the laughable Liberal Fascists by Jonah Goldberg if you doubt me on this. Perhaps this is the inevitable result of too many years of labeling one’s opponents as fascists or Nazis in arguments and debates: the terms have lost any real concrete meaning.

Is it fascism yet? Will we recognize it when it is?

Perhaps I will explore the subject a little more fully another day, or at least at a more reasonable hour. For now, I will leave you with this troubling thought:

Regardless of whether we have yet crossed the line into fascism yet, it cannot be doubted that our government, particularly the central executive, has become increasingly authoritarian. We have a president who does not feel bound to enforce or obey the laws passed by Congress or the decisions handed down by the Supreme Court. And we have two candidates who are running to succed him: one who seems determined to continue the current president’s failed policies, and one who has built a grass-roots movement centered around change, hope, and the power of the American people.

There will be a period of nearly two months between election night in November and Inauguration Day in January.

A lot can happen in two months.

Are we certain that, if the voters do not choose McCain to succeed him, Bush will step down on the appointed day? That he will not find some pretext, some emergency, that requires him to stay in control in order to ensure “continuity” in government policy? In the name of protecting us from terrorists, and preserving our ever-dwindling liberties?

And if he does not step down, will we step up and say that this is not our way? Or will we keep our heads down, not make waves, and assume that someone else will put a stop to the madness?

I don’t know the answer to these questions, and, as it is now approaching 4:00 AM here in Redstatesville, I am frankly too tired to delve into the matter at the moment.

But I still think Bush and Cheney ought to be impeached now, rather than taking a chance.

jane doe

Bravo! to the 150 protesters who managed to get close enough to our alleged president today for Bush to hear them heckling him during his Fourth of July speech.

Somehow, over the past several years, the Secret Service and/or local police have generally been able to keep people protesting Bush’s policies in designated “free speech zones” that are usually a considerable distance from where the man is speaking or the route his motorcade is taking.

This “safety zone” (no dangerous ideas here, sir) has caused me to wonder frequently, is it possible that Incurious George really doesn’t know what most Americans are saying about him these days? Have the Secret Service and the members of his cabinet and staff so completely insulated him from public opinion that he thinks he still has the support of a lot of Americans? It’s like he’s the President in the Plastic Bubble or something.

At any rate, this group managed to get close enough to be heard, and I approve wholeheartedly. This is real patriotism.

People are still setting off fireworks here in Redstatesville, but I’m feeling burnt out after a long day, so that’s all for tonight.

Happy Fourth!

jane doe

Okay, I just deleted about two pages worth of crap that I had written for my Fourth of July post. My brain’s in a weird space this year, and it’s making it difficult for me to come up with anything inspirational in honor of Independence Day.

I wanted to say something about how this year, in honor of the patriots who founded this country, we should celebrate July 4th by being just a bit rebellious. Do something that shows a healthy disrespect for authority. Or at least for authoritarianism. Fly the flag, but upside down. Wear Gitmo orange instead of red, white, and blue. Just something to show a little attitude to the bastards who have been holding our liberties hostage and keeping our troops in Iraq.

But I couldn’t come up with anything good.

So instead, I’ll just leave you with the words of a rebellious sonofabitch named Thomas Jefferson, written 232 years ago:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.

Have a great Fourth of July, my dear non-existent readers!

And kick a little Tory ass, metaphorically speaking.

jane doe

P.S. Last year on the Fourth, I went through the list of King George’s crimes enumerated in the Declaration of Independence to see how many our current King George had committed. It’s not my best work, but if you are so inclined, you can read it here.

Lately, I’ve been thinking about all the stuff that we accumulate in our lives.

Personally, I have way too much stuff, and it kind of mystifies me. See, several times in my life, I’ve gone through everything I own and given away, like, half of it – furniture, books, clothes, computers, musical instruments, kitchen toys, whatever. Every time I move, I get rid of a bunch of stuff. Yet my closets and cabinets and bookshelves always seem full.

Maybe stuff is sneaking back in the dark of night.

Maybe it’s breeding.

There’s a whole industry that’s designed around convincing us that we need more stuff. We see commercials on TV, or the ads in magazines, and they suggest that, if we just had Product X, life would be wonderful. People would like us more, attractive members of the opposite sex (or same sex, if that’s what you’re into) would throw themselves at our feet, we would have more excitement in our lives, more fun, more sex, more peace of mind.

More, more, more.

We become convinced that we need Product X. It will fill some gaping hole in our lives, and make us complete. And we go out and buy Product X, often using credit cards to do so.

For a little while, we actually do feel better. We get a little emotional lift out of the act of purchasing Product X. New toy. Shiny. Ooooh.

Then the newness wears off, the credit card bill arrives, and we’re back to feeling bored and disappointed with our lot in life — only now we also have to pay off the cost of Product X, usually at an obscene rate of interest.

And so the vicious cycle begins.

Sometimes, the stuff we buy even demands that we buy additional stuff. There’s no point in owning a DVD player if you’re not going to have a bunch of DVDs to watch with it, right?

The stuff they’re making for children is particularly bad in this regard. My nieces are currently in a Barbie phase. But you can’t just give them a Barbie. Oh, no. Barbie needs clothes, and shoes, and a car, and a house to keep all her stuff in. And she needs friends, and they also need all of same. And pretty soon, you’ve got a whole freaking neighborhood full of Barbie homes and Barbie accessories, and the little girls of our world are well on their way to becoming good little cogs in the consumerist machine.

A few years back, Mattel actually came out with a Barbie that was specifically designed around recreational shopping. She was called Cool Shopping Barbie, and she came with a sales counter full of items that could be “purchased” and (I swear I am not making this part up) a tiny credit card wired to her hand. If you ran the credit card through a slot on the toy cash register, it said, “Credit approved,” in a tinny electronic voice.

Let’s get them hooked on racking up the high-interest consumer debt while they’re still young.

I was appalled when I saw Cool Shopping Barbie. Needless to say, I bought one immediately. I still have it, too, still in it’s plastic box. It’s on a shelf in my closet, but periodically, I pull it down to show friends, saying, “See? This is what is going to cause the downfall of our civilization!” (My friends usually respond by rolling their eyes and questioning my taste. Often this is rapidly followed by disparaging remarks about my coffee table and the fake palm tree with Christmas lights and ornaments in my living room. But that’s another story.)

And yes, I recognize the irony in purchasing an unnecessary plastic toy to highlight the problems with rampant consumerism. I’m all about the irony.

But I digress.

I’ve developed a theory about the accumulation of stuff, though, and here it is:

Stuff is a trap.

It ties you to a place, because moving all your stuff around is a pain in the ass. And if you buy stuff on credit, it can tie you to a job you hate, just so you can keep ahead of the bills. Plus, the more stuff you have, the larger the house or apartment you need in order to store it, which in turn means higher rent or mortgage payments.

Large segments of our culture, our economy, are dependent upon the continuing cycle of stuff acquisition. After all, making all that stuff creates a lot of jobs, right?

Except that most of those jobs seem to be in China or other parts of the world where labor is cheaper and laws designed to protect workers or the environment are less restrictive or completely nonexistent. Which means that a lot of the money that Americans spend buying all that stuff ends up going out of our economy and into other economies.

And don’t even get me started on how oil enters into all this. We need gasoline to fuel all those SUVs, after all. And so we invaded Iraq, and then hired a bunch of corporations like Halliburton and Blackwater to rebuild things and protect the people who we hired to rebuild the stuff we bombed into oblivion when we attacked. And we didn’t even negotiate a good deal with these corporations – they have no-bid cost-plus contracts, which means that they are pretty much black holes into which massive quantities of our tax dollars are disappearing.

Now last week we get the news that Exxon-Mobil, BP, and a bunch of other big oil companies – you know, the ones who have been raping us at the gas pump for the last few years because Congress can’t be bothered to close the Enron loophole – are about to be awarded contracts to, you guessed it, run Iraq’s oil wells. So in essence, the whole war with Iraq was nothing more than a cynical plan to funnel our tax dollars into the pockets of corporate giants, either directly (through the no-bid contracts) or indirectly (through fighting a war at the cost of thousands of our soldiers’ lives and billions more of our tax dollars).

All this, in the name of stuff.

We’ve become a nation that is gorging itself on the world’s resources, exporting money while we import all manner of stuff, much (most?) of which we could safely do without – indeed, would be better off without. No wonder we’ve become a nation full of obese people. It’s all part of the same process.

And does our government take any steps to halt these trends?

No, of course not. See, that would be logical, and logic clearly has no role in modern politics.

Instead, we receive the same message from our government that we receive from the advertisers: buy more stuff.

After 9/11, we were told it was our patriotic duty to get back into the malls before all of the funerals had even been conducted.

Throughout two wars, we have not been asked to make sacrifices, to make do with less to help the war effort the way our country was during World War II. No, instead, it’s just, buy more stuff.

And now, of course, we have the famous “economic stimulus” checks, which, if they are to have their intended effect, should be used to – you guessed it – buy more stuff.

Of course, that’s not what most people are going to do with the money. I suspect most of those checks will be going toward credit card bills and mortgage payments, as people try to pay down their debt as a hedge against the weakening economy, so that if they lose their jobs, they can hold on a while longer before they also lose their homes.

Which means that the whole economic stimulus plan that we’ve been sold on was effectively a way to funnel billions of our tax dollars to the holders of the mortgages and consumer debt. You know, those predatory lenders that got consumers hooked on buying more than they could afford, which got us into this whole economic mess to begin with.

And that’s why stuff is a trap, in our personal lives and on a global level.

Sometime back in the late 1990s, I stumbled across a pseudo-anarchist group that called themselves Decadent Action. Their tongue-in-cheek plan was to bring about a collapse of the capitalist system by encouraging people to run up huge credit card bills buying useless luxury items or food and drink (which can’t even be repossessed), then have massive numbers of people simultaneously default on the lenders.

But our addiction to stuff has caused us to out-do the absurdists.

Lately, I’ve been fantasizing about getting rid of all my stuff. Paring all my worldly possessions down to what can be fit in one suitcase, a bookbag, and my purse. Then I could run away and see the world, going wherever my mood or curiosity takes me.

Unfortunately, my clever plan to pay off my student loans and finance such a trip has not produced much success so far. Stupid PowerBall.

As for the whole economic and cultural nightmare caused by our addiction to stuff, well, I don’t have much in the way of solutions for that problem. See, much like John McCain, I don’t really have a good understanding of economics. At least, I assume that’s what the problem is, because the only ways I can see to address the problems I’ve talked about here are likely to lead to complete worldwide economic collapse and/or open class warfare.

I’m certainly open to suggestions, though. Questions? Comments?

jane doe

…if they really are out to get us?

It’s a question I’ve been pondering today, as I contemplate the current state of things in American politics.

There is a phenomenon in psychology known as habituation, in which an organism – human or animal – begins to ignore some stimulus in its environment that has been repeated over and over. After a certain point, the brain just tunes it out, and stops reacting even at the neurological level. Our nervous systems are set up to notice changes in the environment. Changes represent potential threats, or risks, or food sources, and they draw our attention quickly, while unchanging things are quickly filed and forgotten.

Say you bring home a new clock and put it on your mantle. When you first start it up, you notice the ticking sound made by the second hand as it moves in its circular route. But very quickly you become unaware of the noise unless you are deliberately attending to it.

Here’s another example: I live in the flight path of the Redstatesville airport. There are relatively few flights in and out of the airport each day, and once I had been living here for a while, I rarely noticed the planes anymore unless one passed by particularly low directly overhead. In the last few days, however, a helicopter has been flying around my neighborhood frequently, presumably because of its proximity to the airport. That, I notice. But if it becomes routine over the next few weeks, I’ll probably stop noticing it, as well.

People who live along train tracks experience a similar phenomenon, and wonder why their house guests never seem to get a good night’s sleep.

It kind of works the same way with warnings. Call it Boy Who Cried Wolf Syndrome: when a warning is repeated endlessly, and the event warned of never happens, the warning itself becomes meaningless chatter that gets filtered out as we go about our business.

When’s the last time you really listened to a flight attendant give the pre-flight safety speech? Do you actually look around the cabin to find the nearest exit before takeoff? I’m betting that for frequent travelers, the answer to those questions are, “Um, jeez, I don’t know,” and “No,” respectively.

Where am I going with this?

Well, as I’ve said elsewhere in this blog, I believe that the current administration has been using terror management theory to manipulate public opinion. Keith Olbermann has ably chronicled this in the series of reports he has done about the nexus of politics and terror, in which he recalls for us all the times that bad news affecting the Bush administration was followed, usually within a day or so, by press releases from the White House or the Department of Homeland Security about the terrorist threat. Increases in the threat level, the sudden reporting of uncovered and averted plots, that sort of thing.

And of course, the Republican Party’s beating of the 9/11 drum in the run-up to the 2004 presidential election was plain for all to see.

In the 2006 elections, they tried this strategy again, but it didn’t work for them so well that time. Partly because people were fed up with the ongoing Iraq war, and likely partly because of habituation.

People have simply heard the politicians talk about 9/11 so much that most people (though of course not all) now sort of tune them out and focus on other issues. Like the war, or the economy, or the huge laundry list of scandals perpetrated by this administration.

What does all this mean?

It means, quite frankly, that if the Republicans (and those interests that support them or benefit from their policies) want to continue to use fear successfully as a tool of political manipulation, they probably actually need another terrorist attack, preferably one on US soil. Something that makes a big boom, figuratively or literally.

This thought has been keeping me awake at night lately.

Don’t get me wrong. I don’t believe that this is a Republican party campaign strategy. I am not accusing anyone of treason. There has been no attack yet, and I have know knowledge of actual facts about any plot.

What I’m saying is, that it would only take a few people with knowledge of terror management theory’s implications to see what “needed” to be done and to arrange for it to happen.

You may, at this point, be thinking, “Wait a minute. This is all well and good, but so far I haven’t heard anything that would suggest that people high up in the current administration or the Republican party are even aware of terror management theory. Isn’t this just something a bunch of ivory-tower social psychologists like to jawjack about? Where’s your evidence that any of the people you are talking about know anything at all about this?”

Here’s the thing:

Since 9/11, there has been a major increase in government funding for terror management research. Much if not all of that funding comes through the Department of Homeland Security, and various military officers and DHS officials have been briefed on the findings by the very university professors who are conducting the research.

How do I know this? Ah, that would be telling. But some of it, at least, can probably be confirmed through public sources – particularly information about research grants that have been made to fund the research. As for the briefings claim, well…let’s just say I have my sources, and leave it at that for now.

You can see why I am losing sleep at night: I don’t think the terrorists are the only ones we have to fear.

Hell, I don’t even think the terrorists are the most dangerous threat at the moment.

What might motivate otherwise loyal Americans to orchestrate a “terrorist” attack on their own country?

Money. Power.

Both of these are at stake, in huge amounts, at the moment.

My original mental doomsday scenario called for the attack to be a few weeks before the November election. Say, late September or early October.

But last night I got to thinking, what if manipulating the election results to ensure a favorable outcome weren’t your only goal?

What if you were trying to force measures further eroding our privacy and civil liberties through Congress?

What if you wanted an excuse to start bombing Iran?

Am I being paranoid?

We’re heading into a three-day weekend, a time when people will be pumped up with patriotic fervor. The day when we celebrate our country’s founding and the battle for our independence.

There will be all sorts of big events drawing thousands of people, all across the country. Baseball games, outdoor concerts, fireworks displays.

And large gatherings of people make really good targets for a terrorist attack.

Am I being paranoid?

I really, really hope so. Believe me when I say that nothing would make me happier than to be wrong on this.

I just hope that, if the worst does happen, if another attack does occur, that things will be a little different than they were after 9/11. That Congress won’t rush to sell out our remaining civil liberties, or allow us to be bulldozed into a war with Iran before the investigation into the attack is even finished. That the media will question the information being fed to them by those in power, instead of just mindlessly reporting it as truth. That whoever conducts the investigation looks not just at the Middle East, but also closer to home, when trying to establish the list of suspects and their motivations.

I think I’ll end on that cheerful note. Again, I really hope to be proven wrong in all of this. I’ll be really happy if on January 21, 2009, I’m writing a post about how I got all worked up over nothing.

As for this weekend, well, I don’t think I’ll be going to any baseball games, or large concerts, or fireworks shows. Maybe I’ll go for a drive out into the farmland surrounding us here in Redstatesville. See how the corn’s coming up. Get away from the city lights and lie on the hood of my car staring up at the sky, counting stars and dreaming of a world where I don’t feel the need to engage in the kind of paranoid speculation I’ve been doing here today.

jane doe

Addendum: A new CNN poll out today (July 2) reports that “Americans’ concerns about terrorism have hit an all-time low for the post-September 11 era,” and goes on to say:

According to a CNN/Opinion Research Corp. survey released Wednesday, 35 percent of Americans believe a terrorist attack somewhere in the United States is likely over the next several weeks.

The figure is the lowest in a CNN poll since the September 11, 2001, al Qaeda attacks, which killed nearly 3,000 people.

All of which ties in with my comment above about Boy Who Cried Wolf Syndrome. If Americans have become less concerned with the threat of another attack, then repeated comments about 9/11 and the threat of future attacks are less likely to have the kind of impact at the polls that they did in 2004.

I’m just saying…

Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past few days, you have most likely heard by now about the brouhaha surrounding McCain adviser and lobbyist (because apparently all McCain advisers are lobbyists) Charlie Black’s comment that a terrorist attack on U.S. soil in the coming months would likely help the McCain campaign. According to the article:

On national security McCain wins. We saw how that might play out early in the campaign, when one good scare, one timely reminder of the chaos lurking in the world, probably saved McCain in New Hampshire, a state he had to win to save his candidacy – this according to McCain’s chief strategist, Charlie Black. The assassination of Benazir Bhutto in December was an “unfortunate event,” says Black. “But his knowledge and ability to talk about it reemphasized that this is the guy who’s ready to be Commander-in-Chief. And it helped us.” As would, Black concedes with startling candor after we raise the issue, another terrorist attack on U.S. soil. “Certainly it would be a big advantage to him,” says Black.

Black’s statement, and McCain’s relative lack of reaction to it, have been causing great consternation and discussion both in the mainstream media and here in teh internets. Keith Olbermann has covered the remark and its fallout for five nights running so far. The liberal blogosphere is all a-tizzy. People have been calling for Black to resign from McCain’s campaign, and/or for McCain to show him the door.

Some people have also been debating the accuracy of the assertion. Is it fair to say McCain wins on national security? Is he better than Barack Obama in this area? Frankly, I find that idea hard to accept, and it’s disturbing that so many in the mainstream media seem to take it as a given. I mean, the man doesn’t know Sunni from Shia, he gets confused over the fact that Iran and al Qaeda are not best buddies, and he sang “Bomb-bomb-bomb Iran” in a town hall meeting. Color me unimpressed.

But when it comes down to it, as much as it pains me to say this, whether McCain is better than Obama in any substantive way on national security matters is probably irrelevant. Because in all likelihood, Charlie Black is right on this:

McCain benefits if there is a terrorist attack in the US in the run-up to the election.

Go ahead and yell at the computer monitor for a minute if it makes you feel better, my dear non-existent readers, but then read the rest of what I have to say before you flame me in the comments that you never leave.

It all comes down to terror management theory.

I’ve written about this theory from the field of social psychology in the past, so I won’t go into a detailed explanation of it again here. See here for my original post describing some of the theory’s principles and its relevance in the political sphere (it’s a long post but it covers the basics and how they connect to the political realm generally), or click on the terror management category link in the left column of this blog.

Suffice it to say that research into the field of terror management has found that on average, people react in rather predictable ways when they are reminded of their own mortality.

Say, for instance, the way they are when there is a major terrorist attack like 9/11, or even when some Republican politician harps on 9/11 and the threat of terrorism over and over in his campaign speeches.

It’s called mortality salience by the psych researchers. Terror management research indicates that when people are put in a mortality salience condition, they are more likely to exhibit the following behaviors:

  • They become more fearful of the “other” in society, and are more willing to express racist or stereotypical viewpoints.
  • They retreat into more conservative values, and show reduced tolerance for differing views.
  • They become more likely to support authoritarian policies.
  • They become more likely to support candidates perceived as charismatic over those seen as intellectual (and by charismatic, I mean politicians who use the strength of their personality and “values”, as opposed to their positions on the substantive issues, to win voters).

Does any of this sound familiar? Say, 2004-ish?

Now look at some of the memes floating around on Faux News or in the talk radio realm and conservative blogosphere:

  • The emphasis on using Obama’s middle name (Hussein)
  • The constant “mistakes” where people say Osama when they mean Obama, or vice versa
  • The whispered rumors that Obama is really a Muslim
  • The talk of him being an elitist or a more intellectual candidate who may be “difficult for voters to relate to”

I submit to you that some people are consciously, deliberately setting Obama up as an “other” to be feared, as different, as not a real American. And I expect that the closer we get to the November election, the more frequently we will be hearing McCain and his surrogates beating the 9/11 drum, reminding us of the threat of future terrorist attacks.

They’re trying to raise mortality salience in the electorate. An actual attack on US soil, or even a very real looking threat of one that is somehow stopped, would certainly do a fine job of it.

The effect of mortality salience on a person’s behavior seems to be influenced by the strength of the stimulus that put him or her into that condition in the first place. That is, the bigger the stimulus, the greater the change in behavior as a result.

When a psychologist is conducting research in the field of terror management, there are limitations on the strength of the stimulus that can be used to put subjects into a mortality salience condition. One wouldn’t want to traumatize the research participants, after all. Thus, the people participating in the research are often just asked to think about the experience of death (e.g., death of a loved one), or to read a paragraph that talks about something related to death (people in the control condition are often asked to think about dental pain, instead). This sort of stimulus (or prime) is enough to produce statistically significant results, but generally doesn’t produce a very large effect size – that is, the difference between the control group and the experimental group in the study usually isn’t very big. Indeed, some participants’ behavior might not change measurably at all in such circumstances.

In contrast, people who have directly experienced something that reminds them of death – say, by witnessing a car bombing – may exhibit very marked changes in behavior consistent with the trends I mentioned above. People who would not be affected at all by just a spoken or written reminder of death may be deeply affected by a more traumatic experience, and changes in behavior across the population become more substantial.

Translating all of that into political terms, reminders of 9/11 and the threat of future terror attacks spoken by a political candidate or broadcast in the media probably wouldn’t change the voting behavior of a huge percentage of voters, but in a very close election, like for instance, the 2004 presidential election, it could sway enough voters to change the outcome. I am aware of at least one study that concluded that this did, in fact, happen.

In contrast, an actual terrorist attack on US soil, or even a credible one that was somehow thwarted, would probably have a much larger effect. Its impact in the voting booth could be huge.

Of course, many factors influence voters’ decisions, so it is difficult to gauge the impact of any single factor. Still, based on my reading of the research, it seems safe to infer that the bigger the boom, the bigger the change in the polling numbers.

Think I’m crazy?

Think back to the weeks and months following 9/11. A whole lot of people who were still very bitter about the 2000 election results suddenly fell into line supporting our alleged president after the attacks. American flags were flying off the store shelves. Bush’s approval rating soared, and Congress couldn’t give away our civil liberties fast enough in their desire to be seen as protecting us from the evil terrorists.

So yeah, I think Charlie Black is right. A terrorist attack on US soil would help the McCain campaign.

Would it be enough to swing the election?

That’s much harder to predict. Obviously many other events will occur between now and November that can change the two candidates’ standing in the public opinion.

And I think Obama’s campaign is focusing on some important themes that the research suggests can help counter the effects of the constant reminders of the terrorist threat that we are likely to hear from the McCain camp. Themes like the idea of Americans uniting and his faith in the strength of the American public.

Themes like hope, and change.

So I can’t say conclusively that a terrorist attack would change the results in November. But it would certainly heavily influence the levels of support for the two candidates, with McCain likely seeing a strong increase in his polling numbers.

You may think I’ve made a bad call by posting this information. Am I not giving the terrorists (or anyone else who might have an unhealthy interest in the outcome of the presidential race – say, businesses legitimate and not-so-legitimate that are making a killing in Iraq, pun very much intended) a roadmap for how to influence our elections?

I don’t think so. That ship has already sailed.

All of the research I’ve referred to here is available in any number of social psychology journals. Abstracts of all the articles I’ve read, summarizing their key findings, can be found in a number of online databases and search engines by anyone curious enough to look for them. This isn’t like publishing the designs for a nuclear device, or anything.

The bad guys aren’t stupid. They can google just as well as anyone else, I assure you.

Anyway, for those who would like to find out more, I’ve included a few references at the bottom of this post. I would post links, but the articles are all in proprietary academic databases that require a paid membership to access. Any friendly college student would probably be able to access copies of the articles from his or her school’s computers. The one book that’s listed (last item on the list) is actually available at

Or just google terror management theory, and see what you come up with.

jane doe

Note: I edited this post to add the very last sentence, which was inadvertently omitted. Sorry about the multiple posts, RSS readers.


Cohen, F., Ogilvie, D. M., Solomon, S., Greenberg, J., Pyszczynski, T. (2005). American Roulette: The effect of reminders of death on support for George W. Bush in the 2004 presidential election. Analyses of Social Issues and Public Policy, 5, 177-187.

Cohen, F., Solomon, S., Maxfield, M., Pyszczynski, T., & Greenberg, J. (2004). Fatal attraction: The effects of mortality salience on evaluations of charismatic, task-oriented, and relationship-oriented leaders. Psychological Science, 15, 846-851.

Landau, M. J., Solomon, S., Greenberg, J., Cohen, F., Pyszczynski, T., Arndt, J., Miller, C. H., Ogilvie, D. M, & Cook, A. (2004). Deliver us from evil: The effects of mortality salience and reminders of 9/11 on support for President George W. Bush. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 30, 1136-1150.

Pyszczynski, T. (2004). What are we so afraid of? A Terror Management Theory perspective on the politics of fear. Social Research, 71, 827-848.

Pyszczynski, T., Solomon, S., & Greenberg, J. (2003). In the wake of 9/11: The psychology of terror. Washington, D. C.: American Psychological Association.

I went to Congressman Dennis Kucinich’s web page today, hoping to find a copy of the articles of impeachment he has submitted to Congress. Instead, I found this, from today:

Demands Bush Administration and Oil Company Execs be Held Accountable

Washington, Jun 26 – US Representative Dennis J. Kucinich, in a speech to the House of Representatives today, tied the secret meetings of the Cheney Energy Task Force to the recent award of non-competitive oil contracts in Iraq and said that both the Bush Administration and the oil company executives who participated in those meetings in 2001 should be held criminally liable for an illegal war and extortion of Iraq’s oil.

“In March of 2001, when the Bush Administration began to have secret meetings with oil company executives from Exxon, Shell and BP, spreading maps of Iraq oil fields before them, the price of oil was $23.96 per barrel. Then there were 63 companies in 30 countries, other than the US, competing for oil contracts with Iraq.

“Today the price of oil is $135.59 per barrel, the US Army is occupying Iraq and the first Iraq oil contracts will go, without competitive bidding to, surprise, (among a very few others) Exxon, Shell and BP.

“Iraq has between 200 – 300 billion barrels of oil with a market value in the tens of trillions of dollars.  And our government is trying to force Iraq not only to privatize its oil, but to accept a long-term US military presence to guard the oil and protect the profits of the oil companies while Americans pay between $4 and $5 a gallon for gas, while our troops continue dying.

“We attacked a nation that did not attack us.  Over 4000 of our troops are dead.  Over 1,000,000 innocent Iraqis have perished. The war will cost US taxpayers between $2 – $3 trillion dollars. Our nation’s soul is stained because we went to war for the oil companies and their profits.  There must be accountability not only with this Administration for its secret meetings and its open illegal warfare but also for the oil company executives who were willing participants in a criminal enterprise of illegal war, the deaths of our soldiers and innocent Iraqis and the extortion of the national resources of Iraq.

“We have found the weapon of mass destruction in Iraq.  It is oil.  As long as the oil companies control our government Americans will continue to pay and pay, with our lives, our fortunes our sacred honor,” he concluded.

I have nothing to add right now, except (a) if you haven’t already done so, you should check out Naomi Klein’s book, The Shock Doctrine, which has just come out in paperback, and (b) I really, really think it’s time Bush and Cheney were impeached.

jane doe

I was reading back over what I posted last night – something I really shouldn’t do because I always find things I would like to change – when I realized I left out something rather important in my review of War, Inc.

That is, the film’s impact on me.

Because, like all good satires, it did have an impact that lasted after I walked out of the theater. In spite of being absolutely hilarious at times, War, Inc. is, overall, a rather disquieting movie. This may account for some of the negative reviews, because at times you kind of feel like you’re laughing at a funeral. Gallows humor, I think it’s called.

I mean, here are all these absolutely absurd things happening up on the screen, and you can’t help but laugh, but in the pause after the laugh, you also can’t help but think, “Wait, this isn’t all that far removed from the shit that’s actually happening over in Iraq right now.”

It is a very disturbing feeling.

But that’s not entirely a bad thing. Because we should be disturbed by what is happening in Iraq.

It’s easy for a lot of people to ignore the war, the atrocities that are being committed in our names. Aside from our troops and their friends and families, most of us haven’t had to sacrifice much of anything because of the war. Yeah, we’re paying an obscene amount for gasoline at the moment, but that’s not because of the war. Gas is expensive because Congress hasn’t closed the Enron loophole that lets corporate executives game the system at our expense.

People slap magnetic ribbons on their SUVs and think they’re supporting the troops. Neocons say we can’t leave until we’ve secured “victory” (whatever that means this week), and think they’re being patriotic.

And all the while, people are dying in the name of the bottom line.

I saw Iraq for Sale when it came out on DVD, and it left me so angry I was literally shaking. The effect of War, Inc. was not as severe – probably because I got to release a lot of tension by laughing – but it left me with a definite feeling of needing to do something – march in protest, sign petitions calling for impeachment and war crimes trials for our alleged president, lead an angry mob waving torches and pitchforks up Pennsylvania Avenue, whatever – just something, anything to make this nonsense stop.

It’s a good feeling, I think, and one that more people need to experience.

So if you’re living in one of the cities where War, Inc., is showing, grab a bunch of friends and go see it. Heck, plan a road trip around it if you don’t live in one of those cities.

And then do something.

jane doe

Will this thing not die? It’s like some monster out of a horror movie that keeps coming back and causing trouble in the sequels, no matter how many times it appears to have been defeated.

The House of Representatives is currently considering a “compromise” updating of the FISA law that would, among other things, still give the President sweeping authority to spy on American citizens and grant immunity to the telecommunications corporations who have been helping Bush spy on us since 9/11.

All of us. Yes, you too.

Do I sound paranoid? I’m not. It’s not paranoia when the breach of privacy you are concerned about is actually happening.

See, after 9/11, George and his buddies decided that they needed a bit more information to help them track terrorists. So they asked all the major telecoms to start giving them their data about who is calling whom, when, and how often.

Most of the telecoms went along with this cheerfully, even though it was a clear violation of the law that was in place at the time, which required a warrant to see even a phone user’s records. The companies knew this. They were well aware of the law (they had lawyers who could probably recite the relevant portions of the law in their sleep) and chose to act in violation of it. They started providing the government with tons of data, all about whom you are calling, and who’s calling you.

Now, you may think, “I’m not doing anything illegal, so there’s nothing to fear.” And, in your individual case that might even be true. Maybe.

But it means that the government – specifically, the political forces that are in control of the executive branch of the government at the moment – has access to a whole lot of information that we, as members of the public, might not want them to have access to. Information about perfectly legal activities that could nevertheless create big problems for law abiding citizens.

What sorts of things am I talking about? Reporters’ anonymous sources. Whistleblowers who try to halt dangerous or illegal practices. Sometimes the government doesn’t like what these sorts of people have to say, yet it may be critical for public safety or national security for them to be able to say it safely, relatively free of the fear of retribution.

Of course, there are lots of other reasons to be concerned with all this data. The Bush administration seems to be real big out outsourcing things to private corporations, and it wouldn’t shock me to know that some of these corporations had acquired the data. Where is the assurance that your information will not be made public? Or used for other purposes? Information about your calls to doctors, or lawyers, or mental health care providers, for instance.

And if you find yourself wondering why this issue keeps resurfacing, and why it may pass this time when it’s already been voted down due to public outcry…well…the telecoms give an awful lot of money to congressional campaigns, to candidates in both parties.

There is apparently going to be a vote on this tomorrow. Call your representative and tell them to vote against the FISA compromise!

The always thorough Glenn Greenwald over at has been leading the charge on this. Crooks and Liars and Daily Kos have been fighting the good fight, too. They have much more information on the subject than I do, so be sure to check them out!

I still think Bush and Cheney should be impeached, but maybe we need to be looking a little wider than that now. Self-serving bastards.

jane doe

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