Saturday, January 29, 2005

Incoherent Babbling

Fun, fun, fun reading in the Houston Chronicle today. George Will used the fervor over Harvard President Larry Summers statements concerning the possible cognitive differences between men and women to push the idea that George Bush's inaugural address was a " manifesto about human nature" and to slam the left for its desire to " maximize the stakes of politics and the grandeur of government's role". And here I laugh maniacally, hahahahahaha, because the presumption is just so hysterically funny.

First let me state for the record that I believe there may very well be cognitive learning differences between men and women, and I also believe that the academic setting is an appropriate place to "encourage uncircumscribed intellectual exploration". The United States has become so repressed by political correctness that we are no longer free to express new ideas.

So for Will to use this example to put forth the notion that W is some great Socratic thinker, a champion of the Founding Father's notion of natural right and a defender of Lincoln's " 'proposition' that all men are created equal" is about a ludicrous as Asscroft covering up the nekkid lady at the Justice Dept. It just don't make no sense! And to claim the left wishes to create a "properly governed society" so it can "write what it wants on the blank slate of humanity" and that the ultimate horror of the left is "the thought that nature sets limits to the malleability of human material" WTF.

George Bush hates discussion, hates dissension. He fills his cabinet with yes men (and women) so that no one will disagree with anything Cheney says. He refuses to hold open press conferences or briefings because he doesn't want information leaking out to the wrong sort of people (that would be you and me). W brought us the Patriot Act and secret tribunals. All men are created equal, so long as they don't want to marry other men, have an abortion or question the legitimacy of an unprovoked attack on another country.

Talk about your blank slate, isn't that what the elections in Iraq resembles, trying to write Western sensibilities over the culture of another and calling it democracy building. The right has already don't a darn good job of creating a horrifying uniformity of thought here in the good old US of A. I suppose while we are exporting all of our jobs overseas, we should be willing to share our xenophobia as well. And as for the limits to the malleabitity of human material, please, don't get me started. Can you say cultural elitism.

Possibly George Will lives in the utopia of many traditional conservatives from the bygone era when the right seemingly stood for limited government intervention and the left for pork and protectionism. That was how my daddy taught me to look at the world. But times have changed, our country has changed. To paraphrase the Great Cthulhu, cognitive dissonance beats check and balances anyday.


Friday, January 28, 2005

The End of Conservatives

The following article was written by Paul Craig Roberts. I post much of it because real conservatives like Paul who have not drunk the Koolaid are able to see more clearly and write more forcefully about the character of the people who are currently running this country. One thing is clear - they are not conservatives.

Dr. Paul Craig Roberts was Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for Economic Policy during 1981-82. He was also Associate Editor of the Wall Street Journal editorial page and Contributing Editor of National Review.


In the Thanksgiving issue of National Review, editor Richard Lowry and former editor John O'Sullivan celebrate Bush's reelection triumph over "a hostile press corps." "Try as they might," crowed O'Sullivan, "they couldn't put Kerry over the top." There was a time when I could rant about the "liberal media" with the best of them. But in recent years I have puzzled over the precise location of the "liberal media."

Not so long ago I would have identified the liberal media as the New York Times and Washington Post, CNN and the three TV networks, and National Public Radio. But both the Times and the Post fell for the Bush administration's lies about WMD and supported the US invasion of Iraq. On balance CNN, the networks, and NPR have not made an issue of the Bush administration's changing explanations for the invasion.

Apparently, Rush Limbaugh and National Review think there is a liberal media because the prison torture scandal could not be suppressed and a cameraman filmed the execution of a wounded Iraqi prisoner by a US Marine. Do the Village Voice and The Nation comprise the "liberal media"? The Village Voice is known for Nat Hentoff and his columns on civil liberties. Every good conservative believes that civil liberties are liberal because they interfere with the police and let criminals go free. The Nation favors spending on the poor and disfavors gun rights, but I don't see the "liberal hate" in The Nation's feeble pages that Rush Limbaugh was denouncing on C-Span.

In the ranks of the new conservatives, however, I see and experience much hate. It comes to me in violently worded, ignorant and irrational emails from self-professed conservatives who literally worship George Bush. Even Christians have fallen into idolatry. There appears to be a large number of Americans who are prepared to kill anyone for George Bush.

The Iraqi War is serving as a great catharsis for multiple conservative frustrations: job loss, drugs, crime, homosexuals, pornography, female promiscuity, abortion, restrictions on prayer in public places, Darwinism and attacks on religion. Liberals are the cause. Liberals are against America. Anyone against the war is against America and is a liberal. "You are with us or against us."

This is the mindset of delusion, and delusion permits no facts or analysis. Blind emotion rules. Americans are right and everyone else is wrong. End of the debate.


Today it is liberals, not conservatives, who endeavor to defend civil liberties from the state. Conservatives have been won around to the old liberal view that as long as government power is in their hands, there is no reason to fear it or to limit it. Thus, the Patriot Act, which permits government to suspend a person's civil liberty by calling him a terrorist with or without proof. Thus, preemptive war, which permits the President to invade other countries based on unverified assertions.

There is nothing conservative about these positions. To label them conservative is to make the same error as labeling the 1930s German Brownshirts conservative.

American liberals called the Brownshirts "conservative," because the Brownshirts were obviously not liberal. They were ignorant, violent, delusional, and they worshipped a man of no known distinction. Brownshirts' delusions were protected by an emotional force field. Adulation of power and force prevented Brownshirts from recognizing implications for their country of their reckless doctrines.

Like Brownshirts, the new conservatives take personally any criticism of their leader and his policies. To be a critic is to be an enemy. I went overnight from being an object of conservative adulation to one of derision when I wrote that the US invasion of Iraq was a "strategic blunder."


Thursday, January 27, 2005

Living in the Age of Societal Stockholm Syndrome or Why I Think Bush Was Reelected

Bubba has invited me to be a guest poster on his blog. I fear he may live to regret this kindness for any number of reasons. One of the most significant being, I'm slightly crazed, nearly insane at times. Now, as I have read the Call of Cthulhu, I understand this is no great deterrent to successful, regular posting; but it might make me a less than attractive blog partner. The other notable problem is, Bubba disagrees with me on a fairly regular basis. Which is not really a problem for me, many, many people disagree with me, however I'm not sharing blog space with any of them. So, before I put any of my reckless, ill-informed, badly written opinions/ slanderous ( libelous?) musings out there for the world to see, let me state for the record that the somnolent meanderings of stc are hers alone and not shared by the editorial board of this blog (unless Bubba agrees with me and then we are unanimous in our insanity). So without further adieu...

I was thinking about Bubba's question, "Was the Election Stolen?", and my reaction the linked article. Why are we not talking about this topic in the US? Are we too jaded, too lazy or too frightened to question the country's willingness to give away our freedom and democracy. World wide the Ukraine was cheered for standing up against corruption (and poisoning) in their recent elections, yet in the US people are unwilling to challenge some very questionable polling results. It got me thinking about the state-of-mind in this country and the Bush administration's ability and willingness to play on the fears of its citizens. Which led me to Stockholm Syndrome, naturally.

Stockholm Syndrome was first described in 1973 after hostages in a bank robbery became bonded to their captors after a few days. It has been used to explain other seemingly unnatural reactions to crises such as Battered Woman Syndrome. A search on the internet turned up these key points: 1) Perceived threat to survival and the belief that one's captor is willing to act on that threat; 2) The captive's perception of small kindnesses from the captor within a context of terror; 3) Isolation from perspectives other than those of the captor; 4) Perceived inability to escape.

Bush, Cheney and Rove have done a great job of convincing the country there is a real threat to our survival and that they alone are willing to act against that threat. Never mind that the threat is more whacked-out than a fun-house mirror, the country believes it exists, therefore it does. And for sure those Bushies have proved they are willing to ACT. Before anyone points out that the threat I refer to appears external and whereas our captors are internal, I acknowledge manipulating these definitions to suit my thesis, which is a hell of a lot more than the Republicans are willing to admit to. Next, small kindnesses are so insidious, we don't even realize they are there - how brave Bush was after 9/11, his compassionate conservatism, Laura Bush, Colin Powell, faith-based initiatives. Isolation from other perspectives - Fox News, the corporate news media, talk radio. Perceived inability to escape; They are out there, everywhere and They want to destroy the USA. Only President Bush can save us from Them.

I believe Bush was reelected because we are too afraid to ask questions. We have been convinced by our captors that they are looking out for us, when really they are only looking out for themselves. Think about the signature Bubba is currently using under the title of this site - "None are more hopelessly enslaved than those who falsely believe they are free." - Goethe. It is time to break free, are you ready, let's roll.


Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Was the election stolen? I think so.

This is scary territory, because when one starts to venture into territory like this, it is very easy to get dismissed with the tinfoil hat crowd. However, as a good friend of mine commonly would remind me "Just because you are paranoid does not mean that they are not out to get you."

Where is the boundary between sanity and insanity in discussion of the Bush Administration. That in itself is a prickly question. Clearly, they committed war against another country without provocation. Why would we expect them not use their power to adjust election results, if they could.

For me the question keeps coming back to those 4:00 PM exit polls. How could they have been so wrong - and only wrong in the swing states - and only wrong in overpredicting Kerry voters. That has been bugging me since November 4.

Read this then come back and comment.


Tuesday, January 25, 2005

OK, let’s try this again.

After some mild cajoling from a few friends I’ve decided to try blogging again. So what is there to write about?

On the national stage, Bush is asking for an additional 80 billion dollars for his disastrous little foreign venture into Mess-O-Potemia (credit to the Daily Show). This will bring the projected 2005 federal deficit to about 450 billion dollars. (As measured the cheating way which includes adding Social Security tax revenues in rather than keeping them separate in a “lock box”.)

Also apparently torture is common in post-Saddam Iraq and it is routinely administered by Iraqis, Americans, and Brits.

Bush wants to overhaul Social Security, supposedly because he is worried about the impending crisis in paying out benefits – which won’t occur until after 2040.

On the local stage, the fat, ugly, pompous Talmage Heflin is still trying to do in the legislature what he couldn’t do in the polls – that is defeat Hubert Vo. Unfortunately this is the Texas Legislature which was bought and paid for by Tom DeLay, so I worry for Vo.

In Houston, a police officer was convicted of criminally-negligent homicide for shooting and killing an unarmed 14-year-old boy, but was only given probation as a punishment. The amazing thing about this case is that there were any charges at all. In Houston, if you are a cop, you can get away with murder. Literally. It has been proven over and over.

Lastly, lets talk about oil again. My prediction was that 2004 would end with oil over $50/bbl. I missed by a few dollars per barrel. My blogging friend, Webster Hubble Telescope won my oil price prediction contest that started back in August. His guess for the highest daily price for 2004 was $58.97/bbl. The high price on the NYMEX this fall was $55.67.

I don’t know where the price of oil is going this year. It seems to be fluctuating around $50/bbl. However, I do believe that the mid-term price pressure is UP, UP, UP. Within 3 to 4 years we will see astronomical oil prices. Mark my words. International oil companies and national oil companies are not investing at anywhere near the rate necessary to stave off the coming crisis.

Most the international oil companies (Exxon, BP, Shell, Chevron-Texaco, Total, Repsol) are following a strategy stupidly termed “capital discipline”. I call it “scared shitless to make a business decision”. The people running these companies are what I would call “Holocaust Survivors”. They grew up in the oil industry in the late 70’s and early 80’s when the price of oil was soaring and the oil industry was drenched in cash. Then in the mid to late 80’s the bottom dropped out of the price of oil. This low price world lasted for about 15 years. Then around 2000 things started to change again for fundamental reasons – namely that the world’s thirst for oil is exceeding the available supply. Most major energy companies are continuing to invest as if the price of oil will never exceed the mid $20’s. The 15 years these guys spent wandering in wilderness of low prices has shell shocked them into a mindset that they can’t get out of. The first one of the major companies that breaks with the pack and starts investing for a $50/bbl world is going to make a killing.

Sometimes my job in the oil industry feels like shopping in a Soviet Safeway. You are hungry, your pocket is full of rubles, but there is nothing to speak of on the shelves. And what there is doesn’t look very fresh or appetizing. But since we all have to eat we buy the crap that’s on the shelves and convince ourselves that it really is much better than it first looked.

OK, now I feel better. More to come in the near future.

Oh, and just look at this mess. It's about time to clean up this page a bit. Maybe a redesign. Who knows.