REAL WORLD EVENT DISCUSSIONS

The Demonization of the Opposition

POSTED BY: SOUPCATCHER
UPDATED: Sunday, August 1, 2004 10:50
SHORT URL:
VIEWED: 7037
PAGE 4 of 4

Thursday, July 22, 2004 4:04 AM

DRAKON


Quote:

Originally posted by SoupCatcher:
This response is an experiment on my part. There are two assumptions I will make. The first is that you are a supporter of Bush. The second is that you are a supporter of the Republican party.

Guilty on both counts. Although Bush has done some thing, some policies that I disagree with, on the whole, I think he is doing a good job, and considering what he is dealing with, a better job than I had expected. Not perfect, not excellent, but still pretty good.

As for being a Republican, part of that is genetic. Grandpa was in the Florida legislator back in the early 70's late 60 time frame, representing Orlando. And helping Disney World get set up, which has proven a boon to the local economy.

But partly, looking around at the other parties, well, I don't see myself fitting into the Democrats, not with my views and opinions. A lot of the left is far too autocratic in vision and sure of themselves for my taste. Libertarians have a lot of attractive features, a lot of attractive policy ideas, but some that I just don't see as workable. And the ones that appear most workable, have already been co-opted by Republicans anyway.

I find Republicans and conservative in general to be better at debate. But your milage may vary.

Now, if I may, I assume that you are in the opposition. Does my party allegence automatically invalidate my views?
Quote:

So two possibilities arise: either he remembered what he had said four months earlier or he did not. Neither option is flattering. To go from "hundreds of weapons inspectors" to "And we gave him a chance to allow the inspectors in, and he wouldn't let them in" in four months time is pretty remarkable. Now if he forgot what he had said four months earlier (and had been saying for months before that) then he is incompetent. If he remembered what he had said four months earlier then he knew that his new statement was wrong, and he used it anyway, and used it as justification for the invasion, and that is a lie.

First off, do you disagree with my definition of lying? Do you see making an accidental misstatement as equally immoral as knowingly making a false statement?

Second. Allowing inspectors to enter Iraq is hardly "letting them in." Lets face it, if the justification for the war were solely about WMDs, Hans Blix could have declared Iraq free of WMDs and signed off on it. He did not. He could not do so honestly. He noted numerous problems with cooperation with Saddam's regime. In short, Saddam was not cooperating with the inspections he was required to do so, by those UN resolutions.

So, if you are saying that letting inspectors to stand around on Iraqi soil, not letting them do their job marks "letting them in". I think I got to disagree there. Now as to why Kofi Annan did not correct Bush, I really can't say. I do offer the possibility that Bush was not wrong in his statement, that Kofi understood what he was saying, and agreed. Because that reflected what was actually going on at the time.
Quote:

I will continue to argue that the statements he made in the lead up to the war, and the indisputable fact that there were inspectors in Iraq, make his later statement that Hussein would not allow inspectors into Iraq a lie. In the end it's a judgement call but I feel that the evidence supports my position and that only belief supports your position.
Well thank you for honestly dismissing what I am about to say before I say it.

I understand what Bush meant in both statements. You look at time frames, and even prior to the kicking out of inspectors in 1998, technically that is true. We have had hundreds of inspectors in Iraq, but again, it is also true that if Saddam had been cooperative, Hans Blix could have signed off on that cooperation and he did not.

That is the biggest problem with this latest incarnation of the Bush lied gambit. Blix did not declare Saddam in compliance. That lack of declaration is the basis for my belief that Saddam did not let the inspectors in in any meaningful sense of the words.

And, I have to be frank here. Your contention amounts to allowing inspectors on Iraqi soil, but refusing them access to the sites and documents they require to do their job, is superficial at best.
Quote:

By using the phrase "the same people" you are able to make a sweeping generalization. I will speak for myself personally. I never said, 6 years ago, that lying was okay. I am saying that Bush lied in this instance. I am not being inconsistent. However, I could turn the argument around and say that I know people who called Clinton a liar. These people now refuse to believe that Bush is a liar. These people are being inconsistent.
Again, I got to call this superficial. Clinton was busted, clear as day. He wagged his finger and made a knowingly false statement to the American people. A statement that he himself knew was false. You have been unable to show the same thing about Bush to date. Because folks reject your position, and your case, I hardly see that as being inconsistent. We refuse to believe it, because you have not provided a good enough case.

People will argue with you, rebut your examples, and defend Bush. Just as people tried to rebutt and defend Clinton. Are you saying that the charge should go undefended against? That we should just accept your assessment of the situation blindly? Of course not, but that is what it is starting to look like.
Quote:

I agree with you that the purpose of invading Iraq was to start a transformation in the Middle East. This is well documented by neo-conservative groups such as the Project for the New American Century as being a desirable goal. The think tanks have been advocating this goal for a number of years. The advocated order was Iraq, Iran, and then Syria. But this goal has nothing specifically to do with Al Qaeda and 9/11.
I have to disagree with this most strongly. It has everything to do with Al Qaeda.

Usama bin Ladan is the son of a wealthy construction firm owner. He is (or was) a very wealthy man, but despite his wealth he had no political influence, voice or power in Saudi Arabia. He thought things were screwed up in that country. And as a Yeman, and not one of the 7,000 Saud princlings, there was no way he had to influence the government to change it in a direction he thought it should go. His wealth meant nothing, and his status was that of Yemini descent, rather than a "true Saud" and hense meaningless.

Since debate and peaceful reform are denied him, open rebellion becomes an option. But that is a very bad idea, (i.e. not likely to succeed) with an American military presence. Which was there to protect the Sauds from Saddam. Whether we would have stepped in to support the Sauds or let the country decide for itself is a bit of an intellectual debate that is no longer relavant. His perception is justifiable that the Sauds might call on the US for help in any civil war.

Now, I think the Sauds essentially let Usama and his kind think that the US would intervene, to prevent the very rebellion they feared. Their government is a failure. Other than oil, they really have no economy to speak of. This means a lack of wealth, opportunities, employment, goods and services that can be enjoyed by most folks. And even the oil is mostly drilled pumped and process by hired labor from outside the kingdom. The people of the nation are superfluous to the heads of that kingdom. That really is kinda of depressing.

To put it another way, the government cannot produce the services, and does not allow it folks the freedom to do for themselves. {Again, I want to throw Hayak at you on this point}. No autocracy can do it. This makes the people depressed and angry. In order to keep their jobs, or at least to keep from being lynched in the streets, what governments will do is find a scapegoat to blame all the problems on. Such as Jews, or Americans.

Having a distant scapegoat, especially one that is powerful, and can clean up the mess you made, fight terrorists that are the product of your own political culture, serves Saud interests very well. If we win, the Sauds are still in power, and terrorist who would be revolutionaries, are up in heaven kicking it with their 72 raisins. Usama has not been reliably seen since Dec of 2002.

Throw into the mix Wahabi theology, and the teachings of al Qubt, (? not sure of spelling) and you can see a dangerous mix of political ideology and religion. You get political ideology that claims to be divinly inspired, as "Allah will". And those who show themselves to be more successful, longer and happier and richer lives, than what God intended, one starts to wonder whether God cares about the infidel more than his chosen people. Scapegoats become blasphemers, simply by living.

Anyway, one of Usama's gripes was US troops in Saudi Arabia. The troops were there to defend the kingdom, and keep Saddam contained. By removing the reason the troops were there, you can remove the troops without the negative side effects of a Ryiadh, and a good chunk of the world's known oil reserves under Saddam's control. Some might argue that it was caving in to terrorists demands, and they would have somewhat of a point. Right now, it appears, (see Zarqiwi's letter) that by giving them what they wanted, but not in the way they wanted it, things are worse now for the terrorists.

And not just the terrorists, but also the regimes that spawn them. A free Iraq will demostrate that Zarqiwi is wrong, Islam and freedom are not mutually exclusive. That the problem is the regimes, not whether we support or just do business with such regimes.
Quote:

Do you honestly believe that if this Administration had come out and stated up front that we needed to go into Iraq to remake the Middle East and allow it to evolve into a more free, prosperous and thereby, less dangerous area of the world that the American people would have supported this war? I don't. I think the American people would have shrugged and said, "Doesn't affect me. I don't care." And I think this Administration shares my point of view. That's why the reasons they gave us for Iraq needing to be invaded all revolved around September 11, Al Qaeda, and weapons that could do substantial damage to our homeland.
You may be right. Personally I don't have that low opinion of the American people. 9-11 did make things more urgent, demostrated the need to remake the Middle East, and sooner.

But whether Americans would have supported it or not, is not the issue. Its how the other governments in the region would have responded. By doing it the way we did, we were able to keep Saddam isolated from potential allies. That meant less death and destruction for our troops, as well as the Iraqi people.

Look, a free Iraq will not only invalidate Usama's and Zarqiwi's model of how things ought to be, but also the mullahs in Iran, the Ba'athists in Syria, the Saud family, the Egyptian ruling party, etc. It will invalidate not just the terrorists, but the regimes that cause them.

Now the justifications all depended on the UN resolutions, or more specifically Saddam's refusal of compliance. This was not a trial in the US, in this case, Saddam had to prove that he did not have an WMDs. He failed that, and that is what made the war justifiable. But the purpose, the goal, that is a different issue.

I do want to note that as far as I know, no administration offical has ever linked Saddam with 9-11. There are links between Saddam and terrorists. And he did use chemical weapons against both the Kurds and Iranians in the 80's. But other than one report from the Chezch government concerning Atta's meetings, which the CIA cannot confirm, (but thinks it can deny due to cell phone traces) there has not been any evidence presented to show that Saddam was complicant before 9-11. It is not the administrations position.
Quote:

Removing Saddam from power was a good thing. But you can't just look at this one act in a vacuum. What are the repercussions? I don't believe that the negative consequences of our decision to go to war with Iraq are outweighed by the positive consequences. And that's how I judge the outcome of the decision. If the outcome of your decision is one good thing and 45 bad things is that a good overall outcome?
Well, I see a number of good things coming about due to the war, not just one. And I do see the negatives more than outweighed by the positives. I really can't fault you for failing to see all the positives, I think the media is more to blame for that. Also there is a time issue involved as things have not firmed up as much as I think either of us would like.

Whether Saddam had WMDs or not, the best we can say is that our information was faulty. But this is mostly due to Saddam's refusal to comply with the UN resolutions, rather than I think any willfulness on our part. By our part I mean the US, as well as the other intel services around the globe. I have a sneaky suspicion, (and that is all it is,) that some of the information given to us by Iraqi dissidents may have been falsified on purpose. To bring about Saddam's fall.

To number some of the good things, besides the obvious for Iraqis is their freedom: Lybia giving up its WMD programs, Khan's black market in nuclear technology shutting down. There is also the fact that Iraq has become the battleground for the jihadis rather than our own soil, I see that as a good thing.

Another issue is oil. And that has to be addressed. Whether we like it or not, the world's economy runs on oil. Not just the US, but Europe, Japan, China, the entire planet. This is how we get food to market, raw materials to factories, and finished products and goods to market. This is how we get to our jobs.

At present, there are two nations, both sitting on vast oil reserves that have what is called "excess production capacity" What this means is that these nations can adjust the price of oil, by either opening or closing the spigots. This can allow for a more smooth price in this essential comodity.

Those countries are Iraq and Saudi Arabia. Iraq has been sort of off the market since 1991, leaving the Sauds with the ability to fix the price of oil, alone. Monopolies are, generally speaking, not good ideas, and this monopoly was broken not long ago, with the destruction of Saddam's regime. Not only was Saddam removed from power, but the rationale for the sanctions on Iraq were removed as well. So both of those I see as good things.

Now while we may agree on similar ways of accounting here, (I say similar in that I don't think its a simple numbers game. Each reason has to be weighed individually. If I save your life, but you get a hangnail and a stubbed toe, I would hope you would count that as overall a good thing.
Quote:

So to get back to the whole Bush lied theme: If he can't even keep straight in his head why he led us to war in the first place, was going to war a good decision?
Again there is the mind reading thing going on. You assume because he may misspeak in public, that he is can't keep it straight in his head. And you have to gloss over consistencies to point out the differences.

We removed Saddam from power because it will make America, as well as the rest of the world, and that includes the Iraqis, safer from the combination of terrorists and WMDs. That is the central point in all of this. The rest is a means to that end.

Was it a good idea? I think it was, but more importantly, at this stage of things, its a pointless question. We fought the war, right wrong or indifferent. We ain't gonna put Saddam back in power. What is done, ain't gonna get undone any time soon.
Quote:

I wanted to get back to the whole flip-flopping thing. You said that flip-flopping is easy to prove because all you have to do is look at the voting record. And if you say that someone votes one way and then later votes another way he is flip-flopping that is correct. But what you are failing to take into account is that decisions are based on information. I make a decision that will give me the highest probability of a desired outcome based on the best information I have available at that point in time. If I learn new information later that changes the probabilities am I flip-flopping in saying that I would not make the same decision given a different level of knowledge? I am changing my mind. Now if I change my mind without any additional information that is a problem. But if I change my mind after receiving new information that is called learning. Some of what is labeled as flip-flopping is actually learning. Another part of what is labeled as flip-flopping is simply politics. Politics is horse trading. There are certain positions that you hold inviolate and never compromise on. There are other positions that you are willing to compromise on. As a member of a minority party in Congress you have to give up something to get something. As a member of a majority party in Congress you don't have to give up anything to get something. So any member of a minority party in Congress can be accused of flip-flopping simply due to the give and take nature of minority politics. The more important question is: are there positions that a person has stated are inviolate that they then later recanted on for political expediency? So I see the charge of flip-flopping as incomplete. If you can show me an example of someone changing their mind without learning any new information or going back on one of their core principles then I will agree that this shows a character problem. Otherwise, I think that changing your mind is healthy. Or, to put it another way, I distrust someone who is proud of the fact that they never change their mind.
This is a very good defense. We'd have to get into specific instances, and look at many votes to get too deep into the case. And what started out as a 'fair and balanced' example is going to get quite complicated. And I really don't have the time or patience to get into specifics at this time. I will note that looking at the voting record, not just for two votes, but for 3 or more, will either prove or refute the charge of "flip-flopping"

But I also see parts of your defense being used against you in the case of Bush lying.Is it a lie if you say one thing, and then find new information at a later date that shows your previous statement wrong?
Quote:

I'll extend what I said: Demonization, in my mind, is when you label an entire group of people. For example: liberals are traitors or conservatives are hate-mongers. Now if I identify you as a conservative and I call you a hate-monger that is demonization. It may look like I am demonizing a single individual but it's only because of a number of assumptions and generalizations. And the reason why it's effective is because there are conservatives out there who are hate-mongers (hopefully a very small number. I only know three personally). But the mistake is in taking a small sub-group, applying their characteristics to a larger group, and then applying them to you as a member of that larger group.
Okay, so you are essentially saying that you cannot isolate an idividual and demonize that individual, have I got that right? You cannot do that without referencing the group you are tagging that individual as a member of.

Okay, I can kind of see that as one form of demonization, but I don't think it covers the entire subject. Purpose versus justification. I think you are consentrating on one justification, rather than the purpose.

The purpose of demonization is to get people not to listen to the guy you demonize. Whether you reference it to his group, or his ideas, his personal behavior, what have you, that is all justification, rather than purpose. Its the excuse rather than the reason. The point is to discredit the speaker, and thereby weaken his ideological, political, philosophic or really, any kind of support that he has.

If he loses his support, that makes your support relatively stronger from the beginning. Plus it also allows you an easier time of picking up supporters that he lost.

Can you remember each and every rock you have ever come across in your travels on this planet? No, I strongly doubt anyone can. We develope this concept of groups as a kind of mental shorthand. We note characteristics that objects have in common, and mentally lump them together based on their common characteristics, (as revealed to our senses) This releives us of the burden of carrying around more data than I think our skulls can hold.

So we call this grouping "rocks" and not "sheep" We put things into groups based on their similarities, and disregard their differences. When we compare groups, "sheeps" and "rocks" we note the differences and discard the similarities. It is an essential mental shorthand we employ and it does discard data that might prove important later, but that does not invalidate its method. Yes it can be inaccurate, but the alternative does not work too well either.

And also it becomes less important when discussing ideology. Politics is a chosen thing. You've made your choice, I have made mine, and those are free choices. You side with your side, essentially discarding the differences you may have. And you note the difference between your group and mine, rather than the similarities, because the similarities are unimportant in this discussion.

We're seeing new fault lines in American culture emerging, and I am not at all sure that is a bad thing. It used to be that ethnicity, skin tone, or some other largely irrelevant and uncontrolled feature of a person marked him as a member of his group. Now, its all about political affliation, which group you choose rather than what you are born with. You can have long hair, be a pagan, not be rich, and still end up in the Republican party. (I should know)You can be one of the richest members of the Senate and still be of the party of the working man, the poor. And I can't help but think that this is way better than divisions based on factors one cannot choose.

"Wash, where is my damn spaceship?"

NOTIFY: N   |  REPLY  |  REPLY WITH QUOTE  |  TOP  |  HOME  

Thursday, July 22, 2004 9:42 AM

RUE


Quote:

even Blix could not even bring himself to declaring Saddam in compliance with the inspections

Actually, what Blix said was there was not enough information either way, and two to three months of inspections would settle the issue conclusively.
Quote:

even prior to the kicking out of inspectors in 1998

The UN withdrew the inspectors because US and British bombing and missile-fire (not just on no-fly zones but even into Baghdad) made Iraq an unsafe country to work in.


NOTIFY: N   |  REPLY  |  REPLY WITH QUOTE  |  TOP  |  HOME  

Thursday, July 22, 2004 2:36 PM

SOUPCATCHER


I stated my assumptions up front because it has been my experience that there are people who are Republicans who do not support Bush, there are people who are not Republicans who support Bush, there are people who are Republicans who support Bush, and there are people who are not Republicans who do not support Bush. I assumed that you were a Republican who supports Bush and I stated those assumptions as a check. If I was wrong I hoped you would correct me. The reason why I felt it was important to make that distinction is that I have had many conversations with people in all four of those categories and I have noticed trends and I wanted to make sure that my observations concerning you were placed in the appropriate category. This is, of course, leaving aside what it means to support Bush although I do have a simplified rubric (If you disagree with anything that Bush has said or done in the war on terrorism than according to his "with us or against us" line you are classified by him as not supporting him so you might as well embrace that distinction - I purposefully use the word anything to highlight the universality of Bush's challenge). For myself, I am in the not Republican who do not support Bush category. To add needless complexity , I am in the not Democrat not Republican who do not support Bush group.

I labeled my previous response to you as an experiment because I wanted to test some other observations. One pattern I have seen you engage in is to re-frame what is being discussed, and then generate a large number of points on this new topic. I liken it to shooting with a shotgun. This is highly effective and takes more of the "go broad" approach. My personal preference is to stick with one point and in detail state my position. I liken it to shooting with a rifle. This is highly efficient and takes more of the "go deep" approach. My motivation is to clearly define the area of discussion, present my position, listen to the position of others and the evidence they bring to bear, and decide if there is a reason to re-evaluate my position based on the new information. So I have been at a bit of a loss in how to interpret your remarks because I am not used to dealing with the sheer unsupported amount of information coming my way. I guess another way to put is: when someone asks what is water giving them a glass of distilled, purified H2O versus giving someone a lake.

This particular topic, why demonization, has gone all over the map. And there have been a number of times I have found myself addressing points that have completely diverged from the original topic and operating away from my preferences. At these times I have tried to return back to the topic. But I was curious what would happen if I instead tried to embrace the meandering path and address your post point by point. I wanted to see if there would be convergence or divergence. In my post before my previous post I attempted to distinguish between personalization and demonization using four examples: two of personalization and two of demonization. I purposefully chose examples of both conservative and liberal, Republican and Democrat. In your response, you attempted to do two things: point up an area in my definition of demonization that you felt needed to be clarified and challenge the validity of one of my examples (that of Bush lied). In challenging the validity of the Bush example you first stated that you didn't think Bush made the statement, then asserted that it is impossible to prove Bush lied because of the definition of lying, then stated that it was an inconsistent position because people were okay with Clinton lying, and then went off on a tangent about the problems with the implications of the Bush lied personalization.

In my next post I attempted to address both of your two main points. For the first I took the approach of working on each of the four sub-points. I provided a quote that shows Bush said what you think he didn't say. I next provided an earlier quote that contradicted the first quote. I left as self evident the fact that there were inspectors in Iraq. Using these three bits of evidence I showed that Bush said two different things. I then made the inference based on frequency and usage that this was a lie. This is the gray area because there is no way that I can know what goes on in Bush's head. But given the available evidence I felt I had made a strong case. In your latest response you make the statement that you know what Bush was actually saying, in other words, you interpret his words so that they could conceivably be truthful by focussing on the definition of "letting them in." Now if I can't know what Bush is thinking and so, therefore, can't know if it's an accidental misstatement or a lie then you can't know what Bush is thinking and so, therefore, can't know that when Bush said "he wouldn't let them in" what he actually meant was, well the inspectors were there but he wasn't cooperating so he really didn't let them in. We both have to infer but I see my inference as solid ("hundreds of weapons inspectors" to "he wouldn't let them in") and your inference as sketchy ("he wouldn't let them in" to "he wouldn't cooperate with them").

At this point in reading your response I came to the conclusion that we were only going to further diverge if I kept responding to you point by point.

So I'm back to the topic of demonization. I agree with you that one goal of demonization is to marginalize. But I think there's other reasons for demonization. Another reason to demonize is that then, no matter what happens to those people, it is justified. Those who are not in power demonize those in power so that they will lose power. Those in power demonize those who are not in power so that they may remain in power. Those who buy into demonization buy into the belief that only one group of people should hold power. In my mind that's a dangerous belief to hold.




I shaved off my beard for you, devil woman!

NOTIFY: Y   |  REPLY  |  REPLY WITH QUOTE  |  TOP  |  HOME  

Thursday, July 22, 2004 3:28 PM

RUE


There are added functions for demonization: it can serve to gauge the level of support for an agenda. And when backed by powerful people, it can create a self-sustaining public opinion.

It's exemplified by: "When Hitler attacked the Jews I was not a Jew, therefore I was not concerned. And when Hitler attacked the Catholics, I was not a Catholic, and therefore, I was not concerned. ..." (The history is off, Hitler started with the Communists, the unions and the gypsies.)

First an idea is floated - Jewish conspiracy. What level of authority seems to be generating this? What are other people saying? If there is high-level approval, few dissent. And some people voice agreement. Others don't want to stand out, so they add their endorsement. And before you know it, an agenda is launched. On the flip side, a lack of dissent can invite strengthening the agenda even more.

It's an interactive process of mutual testing.

NOTIFY: N   |  REPLY  |  REPLY WITH QUOTE  |  TOP  |  HOME  

Thursday, July 22, 2004 4:10 PM

SIGNYM

I believe in solving problems, not sharing them.


Huh. I was wondering what the experiment was.

As far as demonization is concerned, I think it's beign used as an overly broad category. My view is that demonization is intended to make the destruction of a group of people acceptable by painting them as threatening and dangerous.

It would overlap with prejudice when the pre-judgements focus on fearsome qualities (as opposed to cute, disgusting, or dimishing prejudices )

Another way to make the destruction of a group of people acceptable is through desensitization. An example would be the fact that we might not respond to the sight of starving African blacks quite the same way that we would respond to the sight of starving African-Amercians because the former is relatively common. However, desensitization prevents assistance, while demonization promotes active hostility.

The fourth category- to make people "not listen" to a speaker- is really rhetoric. It MAY involve demonization, but can also include logical fallacies and semantic tricks, and could even include simply exposing a relevant truth. (Sometimes, the speaker being ignored should be ignored.)

My take is that prejudice, demonization, and desensitization all rely on dehumanization. (The fourth example doesn't belong to the same category.) Sorry for the not=too-well thoughtout comment- my usual 15 minutes is up!

NOTIFY: Y   |  REPLY  |  REPLY WITH QUOTE  |  TOP  |  HOME  

Thursday, July 22, 2004 5:50 PM

RUE


My understanding so far -
personalization - assigning negative traits to a person based on limited observation.
levels of personalization:
that person is driving dangerously (neutral)
that person is a dangerous driver (unwarranted generalization)
a-hole! what a jerk! (also dehumanization?)

dehumanization - not recognizing or acknowledging humanity of others identical to one's own
It seems to happen naturally in the US, and maybe elsewhere; it is necessary (but not sufficient) for demonization.
And this is my example: you may pass by the 'crazy drunk' without strong concern in any direction, due to dehumanization. But it won't impel you to get out your boots and teach the worthless bum a lesson next time you see him or his worthless buddies. Demonization seems necessary for people to volunteer harm (in general, except the people who like to).

I don't know if there is a category for describing a person individually and accurately based on good knowledge. 'Ever since I've known him, you can't trust what he says. Sometimes he tells the truth, but you can never be sure.' Might accurately categorizing someone fall in this realm? "He's a liar".

Demonization - of individuals or groups, with truth or falsehoods, by the powerful or powerless, and is it psychological or political?
It is an existing psychological mechanism, or it wouldn't be there to be exploited. Whether or not it serves a useful individual purpose, I couldn't say. As a group practice, I think it is essentially based on lies. (Otherwise it is merely an accurate reflection of the world.) It places groups of people into a 'dangerous and inhuman' category. Demonization by groups is all about adverse action: you identify 'enemies', gather allies, motivate to strike, rationalize harm etc, whether the action is merely a distant possibility, or imminent.

And that's as far as I got.

NOTIFY: N   |  REPLY  |  REPLY WITH QUOTE  |  TOP  |  HOME  

Thursday, July 22, 2004 8:48 PM

LTNOWIS


Quote:

We removed Saddam from power because it will make America, as well as the rest of the world, and that includes the Iraqis, safer from the combination of terrorists and WMDs. That is the central point in all of this. The rest is a means to that end.

Didn't you say freeing the Iraqis from terrible dictatorship was another reason?

Also, I don't/didn't think that the war was a good idea because I don't think we'll be any safer from terrorists or WMDs. If we spend all of money on this, than we can't spend it on more productive counterterror solutions and WMD containment projects. And now that everyone hates us more, they'll be less sympathetic to our struggle and more inclined to kill us. The 900 US soldiers killed, other soldiers killed, and all the Iraqi soldiers, civilians, and insurgents killed certainly won't be safer. So while Bush's intentions may have been good, I really think this whole war was counterproductive and misguided. If I had believed good would come of this war, than I might have supported it, but I thought it was a bad idea, and sadly I appear to be right.

PS: sorry for jumping in on this debate. I read most of the previous stuff.

NOTIFY: Y   |  REPLY  |  REPLY WITH QUOTE  |  TOP  |  HOME  

Thursday, July 22, 2004 9:56 PM

DRAKON


Quote:

Actually, what Blix said was there was not enough information either way, and two to three months of inspections would settle the issue conclusively.
That is kind of the point. Saddam was required to comply 12 years ago, after the first Gulf war. Not in another 2 or 3 months, but right after the first war, 12 years ago.

There was not enough information, because Saddam was not complying. And that alone is a violation of the UN resolutions. There should have been no need for inspectors in 2003, or even 1998 to be evacuated. They should have had, and could have had, their job done in a few months at any time if only Saddam had complied.

"Wash, where is my damn spaceship?"

NOTIFY: N   |  REPLY  |  REPLY WITH QUOTE  |  TOP  |  HOME  

Thursday, July 22, 2004 10:02 PM

LTNOWIS


Sorry for responding to Drakon's very old post, but I really disagree with him and would like to talk about it.
Originally posted by Drakon:
Quote:

The same World Court, headed by a Chinese judge that declared Israel's security barrier (the Wall) illegal and not justified as a means of self defense? A country whose major tourist attraction is a centuries old wall built for exactly that purpose, and fails to even see the irony in that statement

Are you referring to the West Wall? Because I thought that used to be part of the Jerusalem temple, not a defense structure in any way. And they've also got Jesus's birthplace and the Dome of the Rock, which are also big tourist draws.

Now on to the bigger, ideological confrontation. These quotes were responses to earlier arguments, so they're sort of out of context. But they make declarations I'd like to dispute.

Quote:

Um... You have several problems with this line of attack. First off, as unlawful combantants, the Geneva convention does not apply. Since the enemy does not recognize the Geneva Convention, it does not apply. So all this talk about the Geneva Convention, you might want to read up on it first.
................................................

The law is not an end unto itself. Its not some magic wand that makes everything all right if you simply comply with it. Actions have consequences, and very few of them are legal. And since you are stuck in this legality mode, again, I have to point out that you are not bound by the Convention if the other party refuses to comply. THAT IS ITS ENFORCEMENT MECHANISM!

It is built on the principle of reciprocity. Because there are plenty of actions that can be very effective in warfare, and yet crimes under the Geneva convention. (Use of chemical weapons is a good example) Without that principle or reciprocity, that puts those who stick to it, despite the failure of the opposition to do so, at a disadvantage. It lets the bad guys win.



Basically you're saying that those who give up their human rights don't deserve them, right?

So could you ever support systematic rape, genocide, torture, etc. as a realistic method of winning wars, if the enemy was doing it too? If the enemy starts beheading our guys, like they did, should we also resort to terror beheadings? Human rights, i believe, are things that make you better than the enemy. I believe that shoving a flashlight up someone's ass, like in Abu Gharib, is just plain wrong, no matter what the context. I believe that torture's wrong, even if it's just minor stuff. So's sleep or food deprivation to soften people up. If you lose because of your beliefs, so be it, go down shooting. The Jews who didn't believe in fighting on the Sabbath didn't resist when the Romans came in their cave to kill them. They valued their beliefs even more than their own lives.

NOTIFY: Y   |  REPLY  |  REPLY WITH QUOTE  |  TOP  |  HOME  

Thursday, July 22, 2004 10:57 PM

DRAKON


Quote:

Originally posted by SoupCatcher:
I labeled my previous response to you as an experiment because I wanted to test some other observations. One pattern I have seen you engage in is to re-frame what is being discussed, and then generate a large number of points on this new topic. I liken it to shooting with a shotgun. This is highly effective and takes more of the "go broad" approach. My personal preference is to stick with one point and in detail state my position. I liken it to shooting with a rifle. This is highly efficient and takes more of the "go deep" approach. My motivation is to clearly define the area of discussion, present my position, listen to the position of others and the evidence they bring to bear, and decide if there is a reason to re-evaluate my position based on the new information. So I have been at a bit of a loss in how to interpret your remarks because I am not used to dealing with the sheer unsupported amount of information coming my way. I guess another way to put is: when someone asks what is water giving them a glass of distilled, purified H2O versus giving someone a lake.

I am long winded. I have to plead guilty to that. One might blame Den Beste's influence, as I read him alot, but I was probably long winded long before then as well.

And even as long winded as I am, I still get "Well what about this?" or "You forgot that." kind of comments. So brevity does not seem to be an answer anyway.

No, I don't footnote and reference each and every declarative in my postings. That would take too much time, and I see it as more a distraction, than anything useful. But I do see my positions as parts of a cohesive whole, and trying to explain that whole means sometimes going back to first principles and such, which tend to make my posts long anyway. Besides, I don't think I have posted anything that is not readily available on the net.

But more importantly, And this gets to your back to the central point of this thread. I mentioned earlier that perhaps this was a perception problem, between a charge with a case, and a charge without a case.

When we are talking about demonization, what we are in fact talking about is making charges about a person, to effectively discrediting him. To get folks not to listen to him, and listen to us instead. We know our case against the other guy. But usually we are left with only the sound bite charges from the opposition. They may know their case very well. Or possibly, we've heard their case, and rebutted them already. The key point is a lack of communication. Part of this is brought about by the nature of demonization in the first place. Even if it is partially effective, that can prevents any rebuttal or defense, and quite often the cases, from getting listened to.
Quote:

At this point in reading your response I came to the conclusion that we were only going to further diverge if I kept responding to you point by point.
But I think you had demostrated the point very clearly. After making your case for the "Bush lied" meme, you went on to give a very spirited and I must say, descent defense of Kerry against the charge of "flip flopping". You apparently still reject my defense, and to be honest, I am not certain I would accept your defense either. Its not that neither of us is listening to the other, its just that we each find the other's case weak, compared to our own.
Quote:

So I'm back to the topic of demonization. I agree with you that one goal of demonization is to marginalize. But I think there's other reasons for demonization. Another reason to demonize is that then, no matter what happens to those people, it is justified. Those who are not in power demonize those in power so that they will lose power. Those in power demonize those who are not in power so that they may remain in power. Those who buy into demonization buy into the belief that only one group of people should hold power. In my mind that's a dangerous belief to hold.
I see where your concern is, and I admit that it can be a problem. I know, and I don't need to remind you, that these are very serious issues we are discussing and debating and that will continue until November, and probably beyond. It may never end in fact. After this war, there will other international crisises (crisii?), there will be other political and philosophical debates and the like, where people will feel or think just as strongly that they are right and the other side is wrong.

As long as we keep it in the area of words though, I don't see it becoming a problem. We'll counter your peaceful protests with our own. (See Protest Warriors for example), we'll challeng your speaches with our own, and you will do the same. Style may differ, but the substance remains the same.

Now, you see demonization as very dangerous. And I would agree that a more civil, more "relaxed" atmosphere for these debates would be better for all. I don't see it happening, and I don't see any coercive means being effective at silencing either side. In fact, I see that as worse than the problems you bring up. But in your second to the last line, "Those who buy into demonization buy into the belief that only one group of people should hold power." I see a major bug.

Not all ideas are created equal. Some ideas do not work, some are even detrimental to one's goals. Not all persons, individuals, can be expected to hold reigns of political power and every work out all fine.

If you think me, or my guy, have bad ideas, unworkable, or inconsistent with reality, you are going to vote against us. You are saying effectively that we should not be given the reigns of power. Demonization or no, you look at what we stand for, what we say and do, and you disagree. You are going to vote for those who see things your way, because you think you are right. And I am going to do the same, for exactly the same reason.

You can't vote for both Kerry and Bush, it comes down to a choice. And in that choice you are effectively saying that "this bunch should not be in power." Even if it phrased in a more positive way, such as "This guy would be better," it still amounts to the same thing. There is no escaping that.

Republican and Democratic political philosophies differ. We have different priorities, different sets of actions we would like to see taken, even different sets of actions we are willing to take, even if we don't like them. We look at the world differently. Where the two are mutually exlusive, they both can't be right. It is even possible that neither is right in one particular area or another and the answer may be found in a third party's proposals.

It would be easy to blow a lot of this off as bigoted demonization, rather than honest difference of opinions on serious issues. I think there is more to it than that, and I don't think it is going to change much. I know it is frustrating, and sometimes you feel like being nibbled to death by ducks. Believe me, I know where you are coming from. But this is the world and the people we got. And what we got to live with.

"Wash, where is my damn spaceship?"

NOTIFY: N   |  REPLY  |  REPLY WITH QUOTE  |  TOP  |  HOME  

Thursday, July 22, 2004 11:33 PM

DRAKON


Quote:

Originally posted by LtNOWIS:
Didn't you say freeing the Iraqis from terrible dictatorship was another reason?

There are many reasons for removing Saddam. But in the end, ultimately it comes down, to, well like any actions you take, it comes down to two purposes. Life and Happiness. Your life, and your happiness primarily.

I can't feel your pain. I can empathize, I can simpathize, I can recall similar incidents in my own experience that resulted in similar pains, and I can even use my imagination to think how I would feel in your circumstances. But none of these would match, (or really even come close) to feeling what you feel.

Or to put it another way, You are stuck inside your skull alone. Yes you can mingle with other souls in a physical universe and such, but you can't read their minds, and cannot feel what they are feeling. Or know everything they know, or think what they are thinking. Each individual is unique with its own life experiences, memories, thought processes, etc. And this tends to make folks kind of selfish.

So we do thing that we think will improve our lives and our happiness. Each of us individually.

So on the one hand, we remove a terrible dictator from power, shut down his plastics shredders and rape rooms. We liberate the Iraqi people. This is good for the Iraqis, but it also serves our interests as well. Democracies are more peaceful, for a number of reasons. First off, it allows the populace to become participants in the political life of their nation, instead of chattle or bystanders. And that prevents the disaffected from becoming too violent, as they have a means of making changes where it matters, rather than attacking an external scape goat.

There are a number of reasons for removing Saddam, WMDs, his links with terrorists, his past history of invading other countries, a debt of honor we owed the Iraqis who rose up after the first Gulf war and were slaughtered, removing Saddam so we no longer have to contain him, and thereby free those troops up for other operations later on, all the way to "swamp draining" and "fly paper". The first attacks the 'root cause' of terrorism, dictatoral autocrats ineffectively ruling their populations. The second provide a battleground for terrorists, one of our choosing, and one not on US soil. By invading Iraq, even though we gave bin ladan something he demanded (troops out of Saudi Arabia) we did it in a fashion that must oppose and fight. Instead of spending those resources on attacks against Americans here at home.

So by helping the Iraqi people, we help ourselves. This is one of the most counter intuitive things I have discovered in life, that sometimes being selfish helps more people and makes their lives better in addition to your own.
Quote:

Also, I don't/didn't think that the war was a good idea because I don't think we'll be any safer from terrorists or WMDs. If we spend all of money on this, than we can't spend it on more productive counterterror solutions and WMD containment projects. And now that everyone hates us more, they'll be less sympathetic to our struggle and more inclined to kill us. The 900 US soldiers killed, other soldiers killed, and all the Iraqi soldiers, civilians, and insurgents killed certainly won't be safer. So while Bush's intentions may have been good, I really think this whole war was counterproductive and misguided. If I had believed good would come of this war, than I might have supported it, but I thought it was a bad idea, and sadly I appear to be right.
Well I disagree, but like that is a surprise? If you have an alternative, I would love to hear about it. I don't think border control, or becoming the kind of police state that would be necessary to prevent another 9-11 would be workable, even if there was the political will to do it. Letting the terrorist attack us time and again, and "getting used to it" is not an option either. You have to destroy it at its source.

There is a disagreement about what is the "root causes" of terrorism are. Why does this hatred of America come about? And this is based on one analysis of the situation. It is an analysis that I agree with, even if others do not.

And I will again point out an information problem that may be present. There are a number of Iraqi bloggers reporting from their own home towns, like Baghdad, Basra and the like, and I think they have a better handle on how things are going there than a lot of us do. We see the bombs blowing up, we hear about the 3 hour firefights and the dead Marines and insurgents. We don't see the opening of schools, repairs of the electrical and water systems, oil refineries and pumping stations, and all the good that has been accomplished so far. Lets face it, the good stuff is boring compared to the bad stuff.

Iraq is producing more electricity now than before Saddam. I read a story a couple days ago about a guy who was pulled out of the infamous Abu Ghraib prison, who was put there by Saddam for buying an illegal cell phone. He was under a death sentence. Now he is free and building up his electrical supply business. He certainly sees his situation as an improvement.

"Wash, where is my damn spaceship?"

NOTIFY: N   |  REPLY  |  REPLY WITH QUOTE  |  TOP  |  HOME  

Friday, July 23, 2004 12:25 AM

DRAKON


Quote:

Originally posted by LtNOWIS:
Are you referring to the West Wall? Because I thought that used to be part of the Jerusalem temple, not a defense structure in any way. And they've also got Jesus's birthplace and the Dome of the Rock, which are also big tourist draws.

I am referring to the recent World Court ruling that Israel's security barrier is illegal. And noting the irony that one of the judges, who argued that such a wall is not justified as a means of self defense, has as a major tourist attraction in his home nation, exactly that kind of wall, built for exactly that purpose.

The Great Wall of China was built to keep the Mongol from terrorizing the rest of China. Israel is trying the same approach, and yet that is wrong.

Quote:

Basically you're saying that those who give up their human rights don't deserve them, right?
Its called the principle or reciprocity.

Look, you and I want to live on the same planet. You are very interested in this abstract idea called "your rights" You don't want to be killed, robbed, whatever. Whether I want to do those things or not, you need to find some means of getting me to agree to respect your rights.

So you offer me a carrot. You don't kill me, I won't kill you. But if you try, I will try right back and I just might be a better shot than you are. As long as neither of us tries to kill the other, everything is cool.

What the framers of the Geneva convention recognized is that their rules for warfare were unenforcable by themselves. I am sure that several different mechanisms were thought up, and rejected as unworkable. You ain't going to find policemen on the battlefield, arresting violators.

So what they built into it is this principle of reciprocity. You play by these rules of warfare, and your opponent will do the same. The war may still be bloody and all that, but your injured and those taken prisoner won't be summarily executed, or tortured or whatnot.

IF YOU REFUSE to play by those rules, then the opposition is no longer bound to them either. You kill their prisoners, they'll kill yours. That is the only means the Geneva convention has for enforcement. So as a LEGAL issue, the Geneva convention is moot. They are unlawful combatants, who do not abide by the Convention in the first place. And therefore we are not subject to those restrictions.

At one point it talks about sites of cultural importance, like mosques. Such sites are to be protected as much as humanly possible in wartime. However, if you set up a command post or a firing position in such a site, it loses its protected status and the opposition can attack and destroy it, without it being a war crime. Essentially the first side to break the agreement commits the war crime. The other side does not, even if it would be a war crime otherwise.

That is the legal issue. It has nothing to do with rights, morality or anything else. And that is what I was addressing in this area.
Quote:

If you lose because of your beliefs, so be it, go down shooting.
I would submit that losing because of your beliefs, proves your beliefs wrong. And I don't care so much about beliefs as I do about living, and winning.

It goes back to the whole purpose of having beliefs in the first place. I submit that it is to further our own lives and our own happiness. We believe in order to live, rather than the reverse. And if another set of beliefs is out to destroy you, and yours, what better serves your beliefs? Fighting for them, or letting those who would destroy them, win.

I do think that too much is made of the Abu Ghraib prison abuse scandal. It was a bad thing, not only morally, (which appears your concern) but also tactically and strategically (which is my primary focus). Its bad for morale, and makes it harder for others to trust us. It weakens support at home. But again, the military stated back in January that they got wind of the incidents, were investigating it, the unit that was there was replaced, and those responsible are facing court marshall as we speak.

Another poster compared this to My Lai, and failed to recognize the progress in the last 40 years. Instead of ~300 innocent Veitnamese civilians murdered, we had a few dozen HVT, i.e. terrorists, Ba'athists, people killing our guys, being scared and embarrassed, but left alive.

(There is one aspect of both stories that is markedly similar. My Lai happened in March of 1968. The first reports of it, to the military came around, March of 1969, a year later. By the time the story broke on the press, Nov 13, 1969, the military had already investigated it, and brought charges against Calley and others. So again, we have an old story, that by the time we find out about the initial incident, the military has already dealt with and was prosecuting those involved.)

So I can't get too much worked up over the story. By the time I hear it, its already been dealt with. And we are talking about folks who would do far worse, and have done far worse. You don't respect my rights, I ain't going to respect yours. That is simply the way it is. And if you want to feel all morally superior about, well, have fun.

"Wash, where is my damn spaceship?"

NOTIFY: N   |  REPLY  |  REPLY WITH QUOTE  |  TOP  |  HOME  

Friday, July 23, 2004 3:57 AM

SIGNYM

I believe in solving problems, not sharing them.


You know I hate to be an *ss... but I'm going to be one anyway.

Drakon, I tested you and you failed. I never implied that you were "paranoid". Rather than admit you were WRONG WRONG WRONG you went off in a huff.

Now, I could do this a couple dozen times over with various parts of your posts but you would NEVER admit that you're wrong. You'd do what you've been doing ever since you started posting- shift topics, accuse others, bring incorrect "facts" to the table, CHANGE DEFINTIIONS, and when all else fails, you'll go off in a huff.

The two possibilities that I mentioned was that you are either lying or incompetent to judge reality.

Over and out.

NOTIFY: Y   |  REPLY  |  REPLY WITH QUOTE  |  TOP  |  HOME  

Friday, July 23, 2004 6:27 AM

SIGNYM

I believe in solving problems, not sharing them.


Soupcatcher- maybe I didn't catch it the first time, but why are you so interested in demonization?

Quote:

But I’ve seen more and more rhetoric demonizing those who are from a different party. I get the feeling that people think it would be the end of the world if the other political party gained power. Those who support the other party are traitors. They should all be shot or, at the very least, forced to leave the country. I’ve seen these statements made with higher frequency over the past few years.


I believe that this is happening because people feel that more is at stake. 9-11 really shook people up. And Cheney globalized the issue, literally, to the point where some people believe that the issue is "ultimate survival".

On the flip side, Cheney, Ashcroft and Rumsfeld quickly instituted some pretty heavy-duty changes to rights vis a vis dentention and privacy. The Patriot Act was already waiting in the wings for an incident like 9-11, leaving the oppostion to believe that much of this was pre-planned. They may not be as afraid for their personal safety as they are afraid of the USA changing from a democracy to something else.

Both of these are significant concerns that play on people's deepest fears and will naturally cause polarization.

However one categorizes the response (polarization, demonization, prejudice, dehumanization) amybe the quesiton should be- what cna we do about it, if anything?


NOTIFY: Y   |  REPLY  |  REPLY WITH QUOTE  |  TOP  |  HOME  

Friday, July 23, 2004 7:59 AM

LTNOWIS


Quote:

I am referring to the recent World Court ruling that Israel's security barrier is illegal. And noting the irony that one of the judges, who argued that such a wall is not justified as a means of self defense, has as a major tourist attraction in his home nation, exactly that kind of wall, built for exactly that purpose.

My bad. I misunderstood you. I guess I shouldn't go online after midnight.

Quote:


Quote:
If you lose because of your beliefs, so be it, go down shooting.

I would submit that losing because of your beliefs, proves your beliefs wrong. And I don't care so much about beliefs as I do about living, and winning.

It goes back to the whole purpose of having beliefs in the first place. I submit that it is to further our own lives and our own happiness. We believe in order to live, rather than the reverse. And if another set of beliefs is out to destroy you, and yours, what better serves your beliefs? Fighting for them, or letting those who would destroy them, win.


I disagree. We don't believe in things to further our own lives, we believe in them because from our perspective, they appear to be true. If you have a faction claiming the sky is red defeating a "sky is blue" faction just because they have nukes, than the sky won't magically be red. The nazis would have still been wrong if they had won. The Independents didn't have as much in the way of equipment and support, and lost, but that doesn't mean Mal's wrong in his beliefs. The good guys don't always win in the real world. Might doesn't make right. Likewise, look at Christianity. You don't convert to improve your life. You convert because you want to serve the true god, or die trying. All those Christian martyrs certainly didn't have their beliefs help out their lives any.

NOTIFY: Y   |  REPLY  |  REPLY WITH QUOTE  |  TOP  |  HOME  

Friday, July 23, 2004 8:04 AM

LTNOWIS


Quote:

IF YOU REFUSE to play by those rules, then the opposition is no longer bound to them either. You kill their prisoners, they'll kill yours. That is the only means the Geneva convention has for enforcement. So as a LEGAL issue, the Geneva convention is moot. They are unlawful combatants, who do not abide by the Convention in the first place.

Ok, I agree that the Guantanamo guys and the insurgents technically can be abused as much as we like. But don't you have to draw the line somewhere morally? Just because their atrocities work, does that mean that we should commit them. If beheading some bad Iraqi would safen Americans and help us win, would you be in favor? Where do you say "Dang, they're really fighting dirty. Hopefully we can still win despite that." If Saddam had used chemical weapons on us, would you have wanted us to do the same? Two wrongs don't make a right.

NOTIFY: Y   |  REPLY  |  REPLY WITH QUOTE  |  TOP  |  HOME  

Friday, July 23, 2004 8:18 AM

LTNOWIS


Quote:

Another poster compared this to My Lai, and failed to recognize the progress in the last 40 years. Instead of ~300 innocent Veitnamese civilians murdered, we had a few dozen HVT, i.e. terrorists, Ba'athists, people killing our guys, being scared and embarrassed, but left alive.

Ok, My Lai was definitely worse. But many, if not most of the abused weren't bad guys at all, just common criminals with no useful knowledge. Also, there was a lot of sexual and physical abuse. If I had a leg wound, I certainly wouldn't want someone beating on it with a baseball bat. I'm pretty sure I also read that all of the photographed abuse was done for fun, not for any interrogation purposes. It's the psychological truth that many people become sadists if you give them complete control over the well-being of others. Just look at the fox corporation.

NOTIFY: Y   |  REPLY  |  REPLY WITH QUOTE  |  TOP  |  HOME  

Friday, July 23, 2004 12:51 PM

RUE


Just to clear up mis-statements about the Geneva Conventions: (there are four, and there are two additional protocols)

any signatory to the Conventions is bound to follow them whether or not the other side does

as long as there is military action, the Conventions must followed, whether the war is declared or undeclared, or if the signatory is an occupier

spies or saboteurs who are caught in the act (or under some equally strong suspicion) may be held incommunicado, but must be given their other Convention rights (humane treatment, fair trial)

the Conventions forbid not only torture but degrading or morally objectionable treatment, as well as human experimentation



NOTIFY: N   |  REPLY  |  REPLY WITH QUOTE  |  TOP  |  HOME  

Friday, July 23, 2004 1:08 PM

RUE


SignyM,

Had your fill of Drakon, eh? I personally will point out his factual errors as time permits (I hate to see them stand without note) but will no longer debate. I suspect that by now most people who've kept up don't give him much credit.

NOTIFY: N   |  REPLY  |  REPLY WITH QUOTE  |  TOP  |  HOME  

Friday, July 23, 2004 1:11 PM

RUE


SignyM, Soupcatcher,

I must enjoy a certain level of pain, I'm looking forward to more postings.

Last round I was ready to say ... steam .. venting .... gears ...... grinding .......... must ............ stop ................ thinking ..

NOTIFY: N   |  REPLY  |  REPLY WITH QUOTE  |  TOP  |  HOME  

Friday, July 23, 2004 1:21 PM

SIGNYM

I believe in solving problems, not sharing them.


Yeah, had my fill. But I agree, I hate to see mis-statements stand too, so I'll correct but not debate Drakon.

As far as further postings... I'm looking forward to some rational discussion!

NOTIFY: Y   |  REPLY  |  REPLY WITH QUOTE  |  TOP  |  HOME  

Friday, July 23, 2004 11:47 PM

DRAKON


Quote:

Originally posted by LtNOWIS:
I disagree. We don't believe in things to further our own lives, we believe in them because from our perspective, they appear to be true. If you have a faction claiming the sky is red defeating a "sky is blue" faction just because they have nukes, than the sky won't magically be red. The nazis would have still been wrong if they had won. The Independents didn't have as much in the way of equipment and support, and lost, but that doesn't mean Mal's wrong in his beliefs. The good guys don't always win in the real world. Might doesn't make right. Likewise, look at Christianity. You don't convert to improve your life. You convert because you want to serve the true god, or die trying. All those Christian martyrs certainly didn't have their beliefs help out their lives any.


I agree that Might does not make Right. But I will argue the reverse is true. Right makes Might.

This is easiest to see in combat. The side with the better intellegence on opposition forces, deployment, logistics, positions, morale, etc., as well as his own, has a tactical advantage. The better you understand your opponent, the easier it is to defeat him.

The more accurate your theories of physics are, the more capable you become, the more things you can invent and build, to accomplish whatever goals you might have. The better your technology becomes.

Physics is a good stepping off point here for me to clarify what I mean here. We don't respond to the world "as it is" and this lack of perfect understanding has tripped up philosophers from the earliest days. Sometimes our perceptions of reality are wrong. We look around and we construct mental models of reality, and base our actions on those models.

This mental modeling is advantagous. Suppose you wanted to attach a rocket to the roof of your car. Think about it for a second, perhaps even Google the urban legend about a guy who actually did it. And got smeared all over the landscape as a result. Now, you can take this possibility, apply it to your own project and you might figure out that it would be a bad idea, and I probably should move on to something else. All without getting smeared all over the landscape yourself.

Now, whether you would, or would not, is secondary. If you think you might, if you figure the risk is too high, you won't do it. (In this case, whether you are right or wrong about the question becomes irrelevant since you ain't doing it.) Or alternately, you might rig up a remote control system to test it out, to get some more actual data, before climbing into the driver's seat. In any event, your decision is based on your internal model, rather than experience.

That is a good thing, because sometimes that experience can be being smeared all over the landscape. Its better to figure that out before hand, rather than, well, after its too late.

I've talked about the decision loop before, and here is where truth matters. The more accurate and true your model is, the more the consequences of your actions will concur with what you expect. And the fewer unexpected or unintended consequences will result.

Its not that the good guys have to win ALL the time. But I do think they win far more often than they lose. That the good are good because they are right, and that gives them an edge over the bad guys. Like I have said many times before, not all ideas are created equal.

There is another aspect at work here in that beliefs, like theories, ideas, opinions, and even memories, are memes. Memes cannot exist outside of a mind. That is their environment, and without which, they do not exist. (The very least you can say is that such ideas are separated from this physical shared reality with all the other humans on this rock.) So, unless the idea aids in supporting the mind it exists in, it ends up getting itself killed off. It dies when the brain dies.

Yes, we can transmit our ideas, via text, pictures and other forms of communications. But even such transmission requires a mind to understand it, decode it, that knows how to read the language in which it is transmitted. Otherwise, it cannot affect human actions, it cannot make any changes in the physical realm, and for all intent and purpose, in any practical sense, it does not exist until and unless someone else reads it.

[And even then, there may be transmission errors, data that is missing due to brevity, or some other reasons. In essense, while I can talk to you, I cannot dump my ideas directly and perfectly copy them into your skull. But I can you "close enough" so that you understand where I am coming from.]

You are right, in that your actions are based on your beliefs. But the consequences of your actions are independent of your beleifs. The world is what it is, regardless of what you believe. If your beliefs end up getting you killed, then I don't see that as helpful, especially if what does the killing is, well, a far worse ideology. They win, and you are dead. And your ideas, your beliefs go with you.

"Wash, where is my damn spaceship?"

NOTIFY: N   |  REPLY  |  REPLY WITH QUOTE  |  TOP  |  HOME  

Friday, July 23, 2004 11:57 PM

DRAKON


Quote:

Originally posted by LtNOWIS:
Ok, I agree that the Guantanamo guys and the insurgents technically can be abused as much as we like. But don't you have to draw the line somewhere morally? Just because their atrocities work, does that mean that we should commit them. If beheading some bad Iraqi would safen Americans and help us win, would you be in favor? Where do you say "Dang, they're really fighting dirty. Hopefully we can still win despite that." If Saddam had used chemical weapons on us, would you have wanted us to do the same? Two wrongs don't make a right.

There is a question of whether the atrocites work or not. I don'tthink they do. I am seeing in the Iraqi blogs that Nick Berg's murder is backfiring on Zarqiwi, that he is losing support amongst Iraqis at least. Just as Abu Ghaib has hurt support for our efforts amongst the Arab nations in the region.

Again, I was addressing the legal issue. Morality and legality are not the same thing. Hopefully they are connected, but still, you can't throw the Geneva convention up in all this, because it does not apply.

If beheading a bad Iraqi would make us safer, yes. Go for it. I would insist that be certain beyond a shadow of a doubt that this was the bad guy, but that is more an epistemological issue than anything else.

And one of the points I have attempted to make is that this is why Iraq has to succeed. Biological entities will fight for their survival and use every means available. We have nukes. We can get rid of the problem once and for all, like the Romans did to Carthage. I would prefer not to do that, to not have to write off that many people. Which is why we are doing what we are in Iraq.

I would prefer to live and let live. But that requires others do so as well. It goes back to reciprocity again. If they want to kill us, we have to kill them right back, or die. Death is not a viable option, but I leave the choice in their hands, knowing we are more capable of dealing it than they are.

"Wash, where is my damn spaceship?"

NOTIFY: N   |  REPLY  |  REPLY WITH QUOTE  |  TOP  |  HOME  

Saturday, July 24, 2004 12:28 AM

DRAKON


Quote:

Originally posted by LtNOWIS:
Ok, My Lai was definitely worse. But many, if not most of the abused weren't bad guys at all, just common criminals with no useful knowledge. Also, there was a lot of sexual and physical abuse. If I had a leg wound, I certainly wouldn't want someone beating on it with a baseball bat. I'm pretty sure I also read that all of the photographed abuse was done for fun, not for any interrogation purposes. It's the psychological truth that many people become sadists if you give them complete control over the well-being of others. Just look at the fox corporation.

That is not what I have been reading. I read the charges in the report, cut to that section immediately. And I will note a couple of things.

[Note: A copy of it is here: http://sources.wikipedia.org/wiki/US_Army_15-6_Report_of_Abuse_of_Pris
oners_in_Iraq#ASSESSMENT_OF_DoD_COUNTER-TERRORISM_INTERROGATION_AND_DETENTION_OPERATIONS_IN_IRAQ_.28MG_MILLER.E2.80.99S_ASSESSMENT.29


1) soldier is accused of, or admitting to, having sex with a female prisoner. NOT RAPE, having sex. If the prisoner did not consent, then he would have been charged with rape, rather than having sex with an inmate.

2) The charges of sodomizing with a caylume lightstick (not flashlight) and broomhandle are made by a prisoner. While Major Tuguba finds their statement credible, I am willing to let a court marshall decide.

3) One prisoner had the words "I am a rapest" (sic) scrawled on him after the prisoner raped another prisoner. Yes there was a rape that happened, but it was one prisoner raping another. There is no evidence, according to the report, of guards raping prisoners, male or female.

4) While suspects of petty criminal offenses had been picked up and housed at the same prison, it is not clear that any of them were subjected to the abuse. In the report, it indicates that it was done to soften up the detainees for intelligence interrogations. And that would exclude the petty criminals.

There is a lot of sound and fury regarding this case. Again, it is difficult for me to get worked up about it. Those responsible are being tried and will get punished. This has started long before you or I ever heard about it, the investigation and punishment.

It does not reflect a 'standard of practice', it was and will be, a minor thing in the history of this war.

"Wash, where is my damn spaceship?"

NOTIFY: N   |  REPLY  |  REPLY WITH QUOTE  |  TOP  |  HOME  

Saturday, July 24, 2004 5:36 PM

LTNOWIS


Quote:

I agree that Might does not make Right. But I will argue the reverse is true. Right makes Might.

If you're talking about factual rightness, than yes, as your sensible arguments demonstrate. If you don't believe in phsysics, than you won't be very good at modern warfare. But you can't scientifically prove something like "There's only one god, and HE AIN'T NAMED ALLAH!!" or some such thing. I also think that believing in the real god wouldn't neccesarily help you win wars, though the Old Testament would disagree with me. Likewise, the moral decision to not use dirty weapons, or not to fight at all, certainly wouldn't help you, but does that make it wrong? There certainly aren't any more Jews who don't fight on Saturday, but I still think that true beliefs and effective ones aren't the same.


Quote:

If your beliefs end up getting you killed, then I don't see that as helpful, especially if what does the killing is, well, a far worse ideology. They win, and you are dead. And your ideas, your beliefs go with you.


Again, I don't think people believe things just because it'll help them live. Look at Jesus. He died, but his beliefs are more popular than ever. That's why you gotta write them down. That's why I often respect martyrs. They die with the hope of furthering their beliefs.

Quote:

Morality and legality are not the same thing. Hopefully they are connected, but still, you can't throw the Geneva convention up in all this, because it does not apply.

If beheading a bad Iraqi would make us safer, yes. Go for it. I would insist that be certain beyond a shadow of a doubt that this was the bad guy, but that is more an epistemological issue than anything else.



First of all, I never argued the Convention was being violated, the others were, as they think it does. I only argued on a moral ground, and as you said, they're not the same. I tend to agree with Mal, that morality's more important. I would also behead an Iraqi if he was a bad person and it would make us safer. Only I define "bad" in this case as meaning "immoral" not "having the guts to fight for his country." I guess it's a moot point, though, because it would almost never be worth it support-wise.

Quote:

Biological entities will fight for their survival and use every means available

Not quite true. They value some things more than life. Certainly wild animals will protect their young over their own lives. Likewise, male chimps and baboons will die to protect their genetically-similar clans, as will many humans. Likewise, humans will die for abstract ideological ideas, like religion. I think it's better to die than be tortured to death, or having to commit atrocities. Also, if their was a good enough cause, I'd die to advance it. Many Japanese soldiers thought it was better to die than surrender. It may not have one them the war, but it helped somewhat.

Quote:

One prisoner had the words "I am a rapest" (sic) scrawled on him after the prisoner raped another prisoner. Yes there was a rape that happened, but it was one prisoner raping another. There is no evidence, according to the report, of guards raping prisoners, male or female.


I also don't think I accused any guards of rape. Only sexual abuse, which definitely happened.

NOTIFY: Y   |  REPLY  |  REPLY WITH QUOTE  |  TOP  |  HOME  

Sunday, July 25, 2004 7:44 AM

SIGNYM

I believe in solving problems, not sharing them.


Razza, I just wanted to continue with the question of Hitchen's review of the movie, in which the central tennet (I think) is the role of the Saudis in George W Bush's foreign policy.

It's clear to me that the Saudis do not "determine" US foreign policy, however, they may influence it in areas of vital interest (to them).

So I guess the first thing to look at is- which Saudis is Bush in contact with and what are their vital interests?

Obviously, the point of contact is the Royal Family which controls all the oil. Their vital interests are to stay in power, to keep revenues flowing into their coffers, and to grow the value of their investments.

Without having specifically researched Saudi politics, my understanding is that the whole thing is complicated by the presence of the Wahhabis in Mecca and Medina. The Saudi Royal Family and the Wahhabis are going in opposite directions. The Wahhabi version of Islam promotes a religion of austerity, a fierce desire to convert or destroy the unfaithful, military control of the territory, and the sacredness of Mecca.

Ever since the Royal Family took control of the peninsula, they have been keeping the Wahhabis at bay by a combination of intermarriage, payoffs, and license to operate in other countries. Over the years, the Wahhabis have gotten stronger because they've used the money to set up madrasses throughout the Mideast and eastern and northern Africa. AT this point, I think the Royal Family realizes that they have a tiger by the tail.

The point is that the House of Saud didn't see Taliban as a "clone". The Taliban was a creation of Pakistan, not Saudi Arabia. Nor did they see al Qaida as a good thing, although they were willing to tolerate is as long as it restricted its activities to foreign countries (i.e the USA, Kenya, Afghanistan etc.) However, the presence of foreign (i.e. USA) troops in Saudi Arabia is a huge problem for the Royal Family and it may cause them to fall from power. Their chief interest at this point is to get all foreign troops out of Saudi Arabia and keep them out. Their refusal to allow our troops into Saudi Arabia was not so much support for Afghanistan and Iraq as it was fear of a politically unstable situation at home.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/2984547.stm

Another part of their equation is not to lose their investment value. I believe the price of oil is still pegged to the US dollar, although the Saudis were talking about pegging it to the Euro instead. As long as oil is prices in dollars, and as long as the House of Saud has a large portion of its revenues and investments in US dollars, the Royal Family has no interest in pulling the rug out from under the US economy. We saw that once before during the rumor that the Saudis were going to peg their oil to gold and/or a "market basket" of currencies. Gold went up to $800/oz, the dollar plumetted, and the Saudis kind of took in on the chin. In other words, it would be very unwise for them to use the economic threat because that is a two-edged sword. I would be more concerned if I saw the Saudis undertake a gradual shift away from dependence on the US economy.

I'm not sure how the House of Saud views Iraq. Although Saddam and Saudi Arabia nominally shared religions (Sunni Islam) Iraq itself launched SCUD missiles against Saudi Arabia in 1991. It's possible that the Royal Family welcomed the invasion of Iraq (as long as they kept their own hands clean) knowing that US troops would be "around" if their own country became unstable without having to tolerate actual troop presence in their own countny. It's also possible that they didn't necessarily fear that the invasion would create a stable Iraq with increased oil exports- likely they had a more realistic view of what would happen afterwards (as opposed to the American view that we would be viewed as liberators and showered with rose petals). In fact, the House of Saud probably would have had more to fear, competition-wise, from the Russian and French contracts with Saddam that were about to go through.

So, what I think this all boils down to is that the Saudis did influence the parts that they wanted influences- to get members of the Royal Family out of the USA post-haste, and to get US troops out of Saudi Arabia. They may have even been for the invaison of Iraq, although I don't suppose we'll even know.

I'm not sure that I would have made as big of a deal about the Bush-House of Saud connection as Michael Moore did. My own view is that the ties between George 41st and the Saudis were much closer, that George 43rd is something of a loose canon and that in any case it would be more productive to look at Cheney's ties since Cheney is the one actually determining policy.




NOTIFY: Y   |  REPLY  |  REPLY WITH QUOTE  |  TOP  |  HOME  

Sunday, July 25, 2004 10:33 PM

SOUPCATCHER


Hey all. Finally got more than a few minutes of time for myself this weekend.

Drakon, for the most part I agree with the sentiment of your post. Just wanted to clarify a few details. (Also, on an unrelated note, would you mind splitting up the link you posted in one of your responses to ltnowis? It’s so long that it has changed the margins of the entire thread.)
Quote:

Originally posted by Drakon
But I think you had demonstrated the point very clearly. After making your case for the "Bush lied" meme, you went on to give a very spirited and I must say, descent defense of Kerry against the charge of "flip flopping". You apparently still reject my defense, and to be honest, I am not certain I would accept your defense either. Its not that neither of us is listening to the other, its just that we each find the other's case weak, compared to our own.


Actually my intent was not to explicitly defend Kerry on the charge of flip-flopping. My intent was more to outline problems I saw with the charge of flip-flopping in general. I see a parallel with the charge of lying. They are easy labels to throw around, and do get thrown around because they make good sound bites, but I rarely see the charges presented with enough background information to allow for an informed decision. I put some blame on the shoulders of the media who, for the most part in my opinion, have stopped being journalists. I do a lot of what should be their work myself (researching old quotes, or statements, or voting records) to determine whether a charge of lying or flip-flopping is justified in my opinion (And that’s just the first step because then I want to know “why?”). And even then it’s only my opinion, albeit an informed one, and a judgment call based on the sum of the evidence because I can’t get inside the politicians head. It’s rare, in my experience, for a politician to confirm that they did lie, or flip-flop.

It’s even rarer for some supporters of particular politicians to agree to a charge. I remember being frustrated to no end talking to die-hard Clinton supporters because they just would not admit that he lied. If we could’ve only gotten past that, then we could’ve judged the lie on importance and relevance and whether or not it was a big deal. I feel that same frustration in talking to some die-hard Bush supporters today (off-topic: I really don’t personally know any die-hard Kerry supporters. That’s probably a function of incumbency. During the 2000 election I didn’t know any die-hard Gore or Bush supporters. During the 1992 election I didn’t know any die-hard Clinton supporters. During the 1996 election I didn’t know any die-hard Dole supporters. But then again, I do know people who were at one time die-hard Perot, Nader, or Dean supporters. I define “die-hard” to be a person with a very binary view of the world: “my candidate is always right and the best thing since sliced bread” kind of a person).

Politicians lie and they change their vote. I’m more interested in why they lie, what they hope to accomplish with the lie, or why they changed their vote. In the specific case of lying, I’ve found a good indicator to be the repetition of very specific phrases. If a politician is questioned and keeps giving the exact same response then I’ve found they are usually skating a very thin line. They’re not technically lying but they are shading the truth. I’m reminded of the whole “imminent threat” brouhaha a while back. Politicians claimed they never used that phrase to describe Hussein, and they were right. But they used words like urgent and immediate and dangerous and other words that give a similar impression. If you look at what they were trying to accomplish with their statements whether they used immediate or imminent or urgent or another word was unimportant. But they are technically correct when they later claimed that they never used the word imminent to describe the threat posed by Hussein to this country. So whenever I hear the exact same phrase from people during interviews my antennae go up and I really start parsing their sentences.
Quote:

Originally posted by Drakon
Now, you see demonization as very dangerous. And I would agree that a more civil, more "relaxed" atmosphere for these debates would be better for all. I don't see it happening, and I don't see any coercive means being effective at silencing either side. In fact, I see that as worse than the problems you bring up. But in your second to the last line, "Those who buy into demonization buy into the belief that only one group of people should hold power." I see a major bug.


Agreed. This was more a product of me trying to wrap things up too quickly. I had spent as much time on my response as I had budgeted and I was looking for a quick and dirty way to finish the post. Just plain sloppiness on my part .

I am against any attempt at silencing voices, even if they are engaging in demonization. It just seems that civil discourse is not so much in style right now. Most of what I see as uncivil discourse I wouldn’t classify as demonization – just rudeness. I really don’t watch talking heads doing roundtable anymore because I feel the ability to talk over and talk longer than your opponent is more highly prized than presenting a cogent argument. I’ve had fantasies of how I would run a round table discussion (there would be scholars of logic and rhetoric breaking down the arguments on whiteboards in the background and outlining fallacies, there would be a debriefing at the end where these results would be presented along with an analysis by the host of the main points presented and how well they addressed the topic of the day, every participant would have the same amount of time to speak, real time signal processing of individual audio would keep a running tally of how many seconds a speaker was talking, interruptions would be allowed and if two people were talking at the same time both their time totals would be running, once you had reached your allotted time limit that would be it, and other things along those lines). But the show would never fly because conflict plays great on television and in print, discourse not so much.



I shaved off my beard for you, devil woman!

NOTIFY: Y   |  REPLY  |  REPLY WITH QUOTE  |  TOP  |  HOME  

Monday, July 26, 2004 12:03 AM

SOUPCATCHER


Quote:

Originally posted by Signym
Soupcatcher- maybe I didn't catch it the first time, but why are you so interested in demonization?


So this is going to be long and rambling. But you asked To fully explain why I’m interested in this topic I’m going to have to go into a little background detail on my interest in politics in general. But before I do that I wanted to comment on the rest of your post.
Quote:

Originally posted by Signym
I believe that this is happening because people feel that more is at stake. 9-11 really shook people up. And Cheney globalized the issue, literally, to the point where some people believe that the issue is "ultimate survival".

On the flip side, Cheney, Ashcroft and Rumsfeld quickly instituted some pretty heavy-duty changes to rights vis a vis dentention and privacy. The Patriot Act was already waiting in the wings for an incident like 9-11, leaving the oppostion to believe that much of this was pre-planned. They may not be as afraid for their personal safety as they are afraid of the USA changing from a democracy to something else.

Both of these are significant concerns that play on people's deepest fears and will naturally cause polarization.

However one categorizes the response (polarization, demonization, prejudice, dehumanization) amybe the quesiton should be- what cna we do about it, if anything?


The stakes definitely feel like they have gone up since 9-11. I think you are right that fear feeding into anger is behind the polarization, demonization, etc. I fall into the second category you mentioned, I’m more afraid of making fundamental changes to our country, in an effort to make ourselves feel safer, than I am afraid of terrorists. We would be extremely safe in a state of permanent martial law. But that’s not the U.S. I love. Frankly, we just have too much inertia for anyone from the outside to destroy us as a country. The only way that would happen would be through occupation and we’re just too big militarily and geographically for any one country to take us on. Granted, terrorists are not representing countries. It’s a completely asymmetric threat. But the only successful terrorist attack on our home soil by a terrorist group that wasn’t from this country took tremendous resources (time and money and personnel). How many terrorist groups have billionaires backing them? Cut off the money and all these groups can do is jump around and scream at us and threaten all they want. But they’ll be doing it from halfway around the world. That’s why I was so pissed that we diverted from the effort in Afghanistan of rooting out Osama and went into Iraq. But I’ll try not to rant .

I agree that the bigger question is: what can be done about demonization? The least that I can do is not engage in the practice. The next level up from that would be to identify demonization and call people on it on an individual case by case conversational basis. Aside from that, I’m not sure where to go.

So that said, why is this topic important to me…

Up until fairly recently I considered myself apolitical. I vote in every election I am eligible because it’s important to me but I am not affiliated with any party and I really don’t pay attention to platforms. I research all the measures and candidates and vote with my gut based on some general guidelines but I never thought about the big picture: what are the advantages and disadvantages of our system of government and stuff like that. Two things have changed that.
The first is 9-11. I see this as a test for our country. We will get through this crisis. But how we respond to this crisis will weigh on how our country is seen by the future. If we take the path of “well, it’s been a good 225+ year run, but we really can’t face this threat without making significant changes to our founding principles” then I feel that we will have failed this test.

The second is due to my interest in science fiction. I love time travel/alternate history stories – specifically where a person or group goes back in time. I originally was drawn to this genre because of my background and interest in technology. I like seeing how an author will deal with the implications of people who come from a more technologically advanced context having to live and operate in a less technologically advanced context (although it sure seems like a lot of these individuals that are transposed in time know how to make gunpowder ). But some of the stories have an element of politics – the person or group tries to make things better by changing the form of government (due to the fact that most of the authors I read are from the US these forms of government are predominantly democratic). I found myself being as interested in the politics of these stories as I was in the technology of these stories. One author in particular constructed his universe in a way that appealed to me: Eric Flint and his 1632 universe (West Virginia coal mining town transported back to Thirty Years War era central Germany – there are many contributing authors, David Drake and David Weber probably the most prominent).

One of the points of view of the author that really resonated with me is that the amendments to our constitution outline rights, not restrictions. The right to free speech, the right to bear arms, the right to vote, the right to representation. The time that we tried to introduce restrictions into the amendments, prohibition, we failed miserably.

I was also very impressed by the attempt of the President in these stories to establish a strong opposition party. He wanted to establish a situation where it was okay for power to swing back and forth because even if his party wasn’t in power, he trusted that the opposition wouldn’t screw the country over. Without trust in the opposition you may feel your only option is tyranny. You just hang onto power by any means necessary. If you have no faith in the loyalty of the opposition than every election is a battle with an enemy and defeat is catastrophic. I really like this ideal as it is laid out. And I started comparing that ideal with my own experience of politics in this country.

I hear rhetoric in this country that goes against this spirit: demonization. People from the opposition party are labeled as traitors. I talk to friends who honestly believe that this country will end as we know it if the Democrats take control of the White House. I also talk to friends who honestly believe that this country will end as we know it if the Republicans remain in power of all three branches of government. In my mind neither of these views are healthy. I was curious if other people saw this as a problem and was hoping to get a number of different viewpoints on why people were engaging in demonization.

So that was my main goal in starting this thread. I originally was going to entitle this “The Demonization of the Opposition and the Marketing of Politicians” but I couldn’t figure out how to get the two of them together in a coherent way.

(The marketing of politicians and the mix between Hollywood entertainment style visual imagery and political campaigns is another topic that I find fascinating and wanted to get peoples feedback on – but that’s probably a topic for another thread . For those interested in this topic the majority of the information out there deals with the incumbent President. I’m really curious to see if there have been any analysis done of the Kerry campaign. A good article is: “Keepers of Bush image lift stagecraft to new heights” http://www.cnn.com/2003/US/05/16/nyt.bumiller/ )

So, as promised, this post has been all over the map. If there is any coherency whatsoever I will be amazed (I really shouldn’t drink, play on-line poker, and type posts all at the same time ). It’s basically a window into my ongoing construction of the political part of my own personality. Definitely a work in progress so watch out for the scaffolding and falling objects.




I shaved off my beard for you, devil woman!

NOTIFY: Y   |  REPLY  |  REPLY WITH QUOTE  |  TOP  |  HOME  

Monday, July 26, 2004 1:54 AM

SIGNYM

I believe in solving problems, not sharing them.


You bring up a lot of intersting points. I LOVE the idea of having logicians in the background identifying flaws!

I have just a few minutes ofr a couple of ideas, but I'll have to finish this up later.

The basis of demonization, and one of our species' great strenghts (and fatal flaws) is the ability to find greater meaning in a word than the totality of our individual experience. We can talk about "the Jewish banking conspiracy" and give it greater weight than our life's experience with Jews. Even a physically integrated mix can be goaded to look on each other with suspicion within months, given a steady stream of propaganda.

Words alone can raise our pulse and blood pressure, cause us to fight to the death, make us cry. Given that they are so powerful, you'd think that rhetoric and logic would be a REQUIRED part of the school curriculum. Instead, they teach "history". (It's a little like the current approach to science. Along with teaching "How many molecules in a mole" science teachers should teach the scientific method.)

So I think an important part of reducing "demonization" would be to change the school curriculum.

The other point that you bring up in trust in the opposition, and the strength of opposing parties.

I think what you're saying is that systems with two opposing drivers are more stable than systems with only one driver - for example, heating and cooling something at the same time achieves better temperature regulation than just heating (or cooling) alone.

That might work with single variable (temperature). However, in a multi-variable society, where fiscal, foreign, and domestic policy don't line up neatly (I am fiscally conservative but socially liberal) you may need more than two parties to adequately represent most views.

But w/out getting hung up in the number of parties, I think what you are saying is that people need to trust the PROCESS of opposition, and not respond to opposition as a threat that needs to be eliminated.

Hmmm... I'm falling alseep at the keyboard. Later.

NOTIFY: Y   |  REPLY  |  REPLY WITH QUOTE  |  TOP  |  HOME  

Monday, July 26, 2004 10:08 PM

SOUPCATCHER


Quote:

Originally posted by SignyM:
I think what you're saying is that systems with two opposing drivers are more stable than systems with only one driver - for example, heating and cooling something at the same time achieves better temperature regulation than just heating (or cooling) alone.

That might work with single variable (temperature). However, in a multi-variable society, where fiscal, foreign, and domestic policy don't line up neatly (I am fiscally conservative but socially liberal) you may need more than two parties to adequately represent most views.

But w/out getting hung up in the number of parties, I think what you are saying is that people need to trust the PROCESS of opposition, and not respond to opposition as a threat that needs to be eliminated.


Yeah, that is basically what I'm saying in regards to the process of opposition. I like your temperature control example. I have a tendency to reverse-anthropomorphosize human problems and think in terms of technical solutions. I have to constantly remind myself that there are no realistic control volumes that can be drawn around most problems involving humans (damn those pesky people ). A good solution would be to have more than two viable political parties in this country. Most people I talk to on a regular basis do not fit well into either party. But there is a lot of inertia against third, fourth, etc. parties gaining national acceptance. So I try to focus more on working within the structure that we currently have.

Getting too tired to type...

I shaved off my beard for you, devil woman!

NOTIFY: Y   |  REPLY  |  REPLY WITH QUOTE  |  TOP  |  HOME  

Tuesday, July 27, 2004 4:48 PM

RUE


Just a quick few comments;

In my experience, temperature control is not that simple. There's rate decrease as set temperature is approached (from either side), overshoot, damping etc. Additional inputs are needed, and they have to be right. Without them at one extreme the temperature is never reached (b/c it is approached more and more and more slowly); at the other, the system goes into severe oscillations.

Or, to take a biological example where balanced opposing mechanisms are life's basis, immune systems must be kept between being unreactive and indiscriminate to be viable.

I'm not trying to draw the analogy too far, but I don't think reliance on a single simple mechanism, in this case the eventual balancing of opposed political factions, is THE answer to long-term viability of the US political system. Even supposedly simple systems with only one variable need extra inputs. And extensive systems need exquisitely complicated balancing mechanisms to adjust without self-destruction.

I do think there are other factors involved. I hate to sound like a broken record, but I think if the US had a political system that had timely feedback (ie a parliamentary system), a lot of these instabilities would be resolved, rather than go on to generate wild oscillations or bi-stable states. IMHO.

NOTIFY: N   |  REPLY  |  REPLY WITH QUOTE  |  TOP  |  HOME  

Wednesday, July 28, 2004 6:17 AM

ARAWAEN


Signym wrote
Quote:

I am fiscally conservative but socially liberal


At least you have small third parties that you could support and foster. Try being, socially conserative but fiscally liberal. It feels like political solitary confinement.

Arawaen

Um, I'm lost. Uh, I'm Angry. And I'm Armed.

NOTIFY: Y   |  REPLY  |  REPLY WITH QUOTE  |  TOP  |  HOME  

Wednesday, July 28, 2004 7:39 AM

SIGNYM

I believe in solving problems, not sharing them.


Jumping around a little bit.

I think it all boils down to a problem of fear. People are not going to tolerate the presence of "opposition" if they truly believe it's a life and death matter. The mechanisms to resolve opposing viewpoints (debate, voting, compromise) aren't dramatic enough to satisfy panic. The person who believes that we have to do something extreme RIGHT NOW won't wait for discussion.

I think the media shoulders a very large portion of blame. Instead of educating viewers they push fear. Fear and horror keep people tuned in almost as much as sex and food, which make advertisers happy. ("What's Wrong With American TV?")

The Republican Party also shares a a large poriton of blame. They're running on a platform of fear.

What I see is an interesting asymmetry of fear. Bush supporters are terribly afraid of "terrorism". Without any intermediate steps, they automatically translate that to being afraid of a John Kerry win. If you were to ask them why they're so against Kerry, I'm not sure they could say explicitly... they might say something about Kerry being "soft on terrorism" but I'm not sure they could tell you what they think he might DO that is so terribly dangerous.

However, those who are against Bush are against BUSH. They are concerned about Bush's record along various lines- environmental, civil rights. unilateralism etc.

What SOME people are afraid of is that Bush will subvert the democratic resolution process itself. The fear isn't entirely unfounded. When I read posts like Drakon's, what I see (and I could be wrong) is a person who will tolerate ANYTHING (vote roll manipulation, Administration lies, secret detentions, secret policy-making, "delayed" elections) just to make the fear go away. Basically, there is a portion of our population who will tolerate fascism in order to feel safe, and the Republican Party is playing to that fear.

While we should tolerate opposition, the one thing we must NOT tolerate is people screwing with the democratic process itself, the free expression of dissenting opinions, and manipulation by the media. In order to be able to accept oppostion, we must be assured that the resolution process is unbroken.

NOTIFY: Y   |  REPLY  |  REPLY WITH QUOTE  |  TOP  |  HOME  

Wednesday, July 28, 2004 10:02 AM

RUE


This will be rambling but:

There are several topics going here. A few are: the notion of politically opposed parties, the generation of 'oppostion' between opposed parties, demonization of opposition, and power balance.

I think what Soupcatcher was trying to say was 'two heads are better than one' - just b/c other others think differently doesn't mean they think wrong, and from the contest of approaches an optimum solution will be reached.

But what I think is that the system set-up determines the outcome, and the one in the US makes for an inimical situation.

Soome things I've been thinking about -

What things may happen in a non-competitive system? Under that system you can have the multiplication of ideas (or any human-based resource) this way: I have one idea, you have one idea. We exchange ideas. Now you have two and I have two. But from my idea (and background) and your idea now in my head, I come up with more ideas. You do the same. Maybe some of our ideas are similar, but ultimately the result is de novo creation of multiple new ideas; or, another way, the simple exchange of ideas is more than additive. The history of human knowledge and invention is like that (and the patent/copyright/IP system of ownership is threatening to strangle it.) A different system leads to different outcomes, such as the 'prisoner's dilemna' game. The optimum solution for that set-up is (as far as I know) still 'tit-for-tat'.

Or in this example, there is the US political system. I believe the US system inevitably leads to two opposing forces (in a zero-sum condition). What can happen? One may completely vanquish the other, then change the system so that a reversal doen't happen. The two may oscillate. Or they may come to an intermediate equilibrium. How it turns out in real life is the result of the original system set-up - the number of other inputs, the feedback etc. US politics have often been stormy and unstable, in some respects self-destructive. (Obviously not as chaotic as other countries, but not as stable or civil as most of the rest of the first world.) So this inimical relationship between parties is the natural result of the set-up. IMHO.

Now that doesn't mean there isn't real destructive intent. Demonization is only demonization if it isn't true. I think Bush & Co. are probably fascist. I don't see the Democrats as eager to secretly disappear people ad infinitum as the republicans are. In this case, I don't think it's demonization.

NOTIFY: N   |  REPLY  |  REPLY WITH QUOTE  |  TOP  |  HOME  

Wednesday, July 28, 2004 12:54 PM

SPLIBERTARIAN


Quote:

SoupCatcher wrote:
One of the points of view of the author that really resonated with me is that the amendments to our constitution outline rights, not restrictions. The right to free speech, the right to bear arms, the right to vote, the right to representation. The time that we tried to introduce restrictions into the amendments, prohibition, we failed miserably.




Small nit-pick here...

The Bill of Rights does indeed outline restrictions, however, they are all restrictions of the government. They took care to not grant those rights to the people, because that which the government could granteth, the government could taketh away...Hence the preexisting "right of the people"..."shall not be infringed."

If you look at the federalist and anti-federalist papers from the time, there was much debate over including the Bill of Rights at all for fear that if the people's rights were enumerated they would thus be limited to only those mentioned.

NOTIFY: Y   |  REPLY  |  REPLY WITH QUOTE  |  TOP  |  HOME  

Wednesday, July 28, 2004 3:19 PM

RUE


Not being a historian or keen observer of politics - it seems to me that by NOT enumerating those rights, the Federal government did cede them to be taken away by states or corporations. If they had been enumerated in the Constitution as being possessed by the citizens, perhaps the states and private interests would have a harder time restricting them.

NOTIFY: N   |  REPLY  |  REPLY WITH QUOTE  |  TOP  |  HOME  

Wednesday, July 28, 2004 6:57 PM

SIGNYM

I believe in solving problems, not sharing them.


Arawaen: HAHAHAHAHA!!!!!!

NOTIFY: Y   |  REPLY  |  REPLY WITH QUOTE  |  TOP  |  HOME  

Thursday, July 29, 2004 3:14 PM

SIGNYM

I believe in solving problems, not sharing them.


SPEAKING OF FEAR:

"Fear of Death Wins Minds and Votes, Study Finds"
By Maggie Fox, Health and Science Correspondent
WASHINGTON (Reuters)

In the first study...

Quote:

... students who thought about death were much more likely to choose the charismatic leader... Only four out of about 100 chose that imaginary leader when thinking about exams, but 30 did after thinking about death.


A charismatic leader is "a person who declared our country to be great and the people in it to be special". The other tested leadership styles were task-oriented (focusing on the job to be done) and relationship-oriented ("let's get it done together")

In second study...

Quote:

"... we asked half the people to think about the September 11 attacks, or to think about watching TV... What we found was staggering."

When asked to think about television, the 100 or so volunteers did not approve of Bush or his policies in Iraq. But when asked to think about Sept. 11 first and then asked about their attitudes to Bush, another 100 volunteers had very different reactions.



In a third study

Quote:

The volunteers were aged from 18 into their 50s and described themselves as ranging from liberal to deeply conservative. No matter what a person's political conviction, thinking about death made them tend to favor Bush. Otherwise, they preferred Kerry.

"I think this should concern anybody," the author said. "If I was speaking lightly, I would say that people in their, quote, right minds, unquote, don't care much for President Bush and his policies in Iraq."



http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&cid=615&ncid=696&e=3&u=/nm
/20040729/pl_nm/campaign_fear_dc


So I think I was correct in pegging the support for Bush as being rooted primarily in fear.

NOTIFY: Y   |  REPLY  |  REPLY WITH QUOTE  |  TOP  |  HOME  

Thursday, July 29, 2004 4:43 PM

RUE


No doubt he will amp it up every time it's useful.

NOTIFY: N   |  REPLY  |  REPLY WITH QUOTE  |  TOP  |  HOME  

Thursday, July 29, 2004 4:52 PM

RUE


http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/print.asp?page=story_10-7-2004_pg1_8
The magazine article claims that Pakistani security officials have been told they must produce these high-value targets (HVTs) by the election.

http://wilsonhellie.typepad.com/for_the_record/2004/07/we_interrupt_th
.html

Bush and gang are pressuring Pakistan to capture OBL, Mullah Omar, or Zawahiri preferably during the first three days of the Democratic convention; if not that, during the last ten days of July; but definitely before the election.

And ....

TA DAAAA !!!
http://www.cnn.com/2004/WORLD/asiapcf/07/29/pakistan.alqaeda.capture/i
ndex.html

Pakistan captures high-level al Qaeda operative

NOTIFY: N   |  REPLY  |  REPLY WITH QUOTE  |  TOP  |  HOME  

Thursday, July 29, 2004 6:08 PM

SOUPCATCHER


SPLibertarian:
Thank you for that clarification. I have only lately come to an interest in the Bill of Rights and I appreciate any and all help in my ongoing quest for understanding. So I'm guessing that article 9 and probably article 10 were a response to that debate that you mentioned? On a side note: I have come to realize that my high school education was very incomplete.


Signym:
Interesting link. I'm not sure if I would draw the conclusion that you did because it's very difficult for me to tell anything about the validity of the study based on the write-up. In the past I've been very disappointed in how the press presents original research so I'm usually pretty leery. Since Psychology is not my discipline, I'll withhold judgement until I see these studies presented in a peer-reviewed journal.

On the other hand, this passes my "intuitive test" in that the results aren't surprising. In my opinion, whether or not the studies have shown the relationships they claim is not important. What is important is that it appears this administration believes they must maintain a state of fear to stay in power.


Rue:
John B. Judis, Spencer Ackerman & Massoud Ansari writing for The New Republic originally broke this story a few weeks ago. Here's a link to the article (they've since added an intro about the capture):
http://www.tnr.com/doc.mhtml?i=20040719&s=aaj071904
My feelings on this are mixed. I'm very glad that another Al Qaeda operative has been captured. Hopefully we can get him into our custody and try him for the embassy bombings. On the other hand, I'm irritated with both Pakistan and the Bush administration. Why didn't we apply this pressure back in 2001, 2002, or 2003? And why did it take the pressure and the incentives for Pakistan to act?

When I first read The New Republic article a few weeks ago I dismissed it as being almost conspiracy theorish. But then we have the capture. And come to find out they have had him since Sunday. And the capture is announced at midnight local Pakistan time (which just happens to be close to prime time on the east coast). Coincidental?

Kevin Drum over at the Washington Monthly was one of the bloggers tracking this. He has a nice couple of links and some thoughts on the delay between the capture and the announcement:
http://www.washingtonmonthly.com/archives/individual/2004_07/004416.ph
p


I shaved off my beard for you, devil woman!

NOTIFY: Y   |  REPLY  |  REPLY WITH QUOTE  |  TOP  |  HOME  

Friday, July 30, 2004 8:28 AM

RUE


Soupcatcher - do you spend a LOT of time researching and keeping up with the news?

I ran across the item a while ago, sent it on to a few people but didn't bookmark or save it. So when the new announcement was made I had to go with what I could scrape up on a quick search.

Thanks for the link. We seem to access different sources.

NOTIFY: N   |  REPLY  |  REPLY WITH QUOTE  |  TOP  |  HOME  

Friday, July 30, 2004 8:33 AM

RUE


USA Today had the good sense to spike it, but speaking of demonization:

Quote:

Put The Speakers In A Cage (Ann Coulter's Spiked Article)
USA Today Put The Speakers In A Cage July 26, 2004

Here at the Spawn of Satan convention in Boston, conservatives are deploying a series of covert signals to identify one another, much like gay men do.



This is literally demonization.

NOTIFY: N   |  REPLY  |  REPLY WITH QUOTE  |  TOP  |  HOME  

Saturday, July 31, 2004 5:15 AM

FINN MAC CUMHAL


It is true that people will almost always choose security over other concerns. This is well documented.

Fact: almost 3000 people were killed on 9-11 by a terrorist attack against the US

Fact: The terrorists who instigated that attack have been involved in attacking the US for the at least the last 10 years. Including a half dozens attacks on US personal and interest (including one on mainland US soil) during the Clinton Administration, all of which went basically unanswered.

Fact: Kerry’s voting record in the US Congress has systematically failed to support any military defense spending. While his Purplehearts might suggest that he is a hero on the battle field, he has certainly done little to support the security of this nation since then.

Fact: Since 2001 there have been no terrorist attacks against US interest or personal outside of war zones specifically declared by the US, and indeed no terrorist attacks on US soil.

There are lots of reasons to vote for Bush in ’04, security is only one of them. Low taxes is certainly a big winner for me. Kerry will raise taxes on the middle class as soon as he is in office. It is the only way he can support his socialist dreams. But only a fool marginalizes the importance of security of this country. Pretending that the Bush Administration is proselytizing fear for its own purpose is moot. The fact is the danger is real and only a fool ignores it.

In Kerry’s ridiculous speech the other day, he made a bullshit comment about families needing to take up a collection for their military son’s and daughter’s body armor. Kerry refused to vote for the money that was needed to support our troops and he has the audacity to make this bullshit comment? If Kerry had had his way, our troops would probably need to scavenge the land for their own food. Now he takes credit for what other senators did. There are lots of reasons not to vote for Kerry, as well.

Kerry simply has failed to define himself. He arrogantly proclaims that he will get international support for the war. But international support is already there. And the Bush Administration spent almost a year in negotiations to secure what international support was available. Now Kerry pops up out of no where, seemingly, and decides that he’s got it all figured out. Well, if that were the case, then where was he when all this going on in the first place? Either he doesn’t have a clue, or he’s working against US defense, as his voting record suggests.

Demonizing Bush as a tyrant using fear to motivate people is ridiculous.

3000 people died on 9-11 because we, as a nation, did not take our defense seriously enough. That’s not fear-mongering. It’s a fact. If you have any questions about that, consult the 9-11 committee; that was their conclusion. Both Democrats and Republicans are to blame; indeed, all of us are to blame. But in general, the only people I see, today, marginalizing the defense of this country are Liberal Democrats, particularly those who want to get Kerry in office.

If you have to pretend that the current and real terrorism against this country is nothing more then the fear-mongering fantasies in order to get Kerry elected, then it may be a serious danger to this country for Kerry to be in office right now.

NOTIFY: N   |  REPLY  |  REPLY WITH QUOTE  |  TOP  |  HOME  

Saturday, July 31, 2004 6:21 AM

HKCAVALIER


Hey Finn, please take this to another thread. This thread is very long and most people with dial up will not read it. Most of us who are still reading it are not here to talk about Kerry's fitness for office. Your sentiments would fit very nicely into the "Fantastic Speech" thread about Kerry's speech at the DNC.

That said, I really gotta comment on your closing remarks. They seem to reflect a very shallow reading of the issues discussed in this thread and a very simplistic black and white assessment of the current political situation that is specifically critiqued in many of the posts here.

Quote:

Originally posted by Finn mac Cumhal:
If you have to pretend that the current and real terrorism against this country is nothing more then the fear-mongering fantasies in order to get Kerry elected, then it may be a serious danger to this country for Kerry to be in office right now.



You seem to think that Bush cannot be a fear-mongerer if the threat of terrorism is real. Since the threat of terrorism is real, then people who think Bush is a fear-mongerer are dangerously deluded.

But I think a lot of very sensible people would say that the threat of terrorism is real AND that Bush is a fear-mongerer. Many of us see his war in Iraq to be a ruinously expensive tangent in a real war on terror. Fear-mongering fantasy #1: Saddam has WMD's and intends to use them against the U.S. Fear-mongering fantasy #2: Saddam Hussein was behind the 9/11 attacks. Fear-mongering fantasy #3: If you do not support Bush's policies whole-sale, then you are putting guns in the hands of terrorist.

There are different ways to fight terrorism. Just because a method can be defined as successful, doesn't make it the right method. If my hand itches I can cut it off and it won't itch anymore, but maybe there would have been other less destructive ways for me to deal with the itch.

Drakon above has stated that he can imagine a situation where killing "every living thing from Marocco to the Indian border" would be necessary to insure our security. He hopes it won't come to that, but if we have to commit de facto genocide, he's saying he'd go along in the interest of our survival.

You see, without a more complex awareness of our needs as human beings, mere logic and the need for security can lead to madness and genocide.

I see Bush's policies speeding toward that kind of future when we need to be pulling back.



HKCavalier

Hey, hey, hey, don't be mean. We don't have to be mean, because, remember, no matter where you go, there you are.

NOTIFY: Y   |  REPLY  |  REPLY WITH QUOTE  |  TOP  |  HOME  

Sunday, August 1, 2004 10:50 AM

RUE


Hi HKCavalier,

I too am still following this thread. But since I've said pretty much everything I have to say, I'm waiting for some other input to get me cogitating again.

NOTIFY: N   |  REPLY  |  REPLY WITH QUOTE  |  TOP  |  HOME  

YOUR OPTIONS

NEW POSTS TODAY

USERPOST DATE

OTHER TOPICS

DISCUSSIONS
Now You See It, Now You Don't: Rewriting The Ukraine Crisis
Wed, July 30, 2014 12:49 - 11 posts
Meanwhile, back in Libya
Wed, July 30, 2014 12:03 - 71 posts
SARAH PALIN TV Channel!!!!!
Wed, July 30, 2014 11:26 - 10 posts
Meanwhile in Gaza.
Wed, July 30, 2014 10:04 - 52 posts
The NFL - beating women less offensive than talking bad about gays, or getting free tattoos.
Wed, July 30, 2014 09:39 - 61 posts
Getting fit by 3mins of exercise a week?
Wed, July 30, 2014 04:17 - 103 posts
Michelle Nunn’s Campaign Plan
Tue, July 29, 2014 23:20 - 3 posts
One guilty pleasure regarding the Illegal Aliens Obamination is bringing in.
Tue, July 29, 2014 21:51 - 8 posts
US: Russia firing artillery at Ukraine military
Tue, July 29, 2014 19:21 - 23 posts
Obama is the Killer of our Economy... isn't he-?
Tue, July 29, 2014 19:02 - 36 posts
Obama's Chicago provides warzone experience
Tue, July 29, 2014 18:41 - 15 posts
Tooday's Collegium Gradutates
Tue, July 29, 2014 17:30 - 22 posts

FFF.NET SOCIAL

OUR SPONSORS