I've already been hearing the same sentiment from my liberal and progressive friends that I heard in 2000 and again in 2004: they're going to want to move to Canada if McCain wins the 2008 presidential election. So I got to wondering, where would right-wing conservatives and fundamentalists want to move if Obama wins the… Continue reading Where do Republicans want to move if Obama wins?
I'm sure there's already a million of these on the intertubes this morning, but here's my word cloud for Palin's Republican convention speech. I like the few key words that seem to be falling off or floating away from the main mass of words. See the full-size image or the original Wordle creation of the… Continue reading Word Cloud for Palin’s Convention Speech
I've written before about the way Africa still functions for the news media as a "dark continent" of primitive savagery. So what a sad gift this headline was the other day in the New York Times: "Warming Leads to Water Shortage and 'Africanization' of Spain." I was getting all psyched up to write about this… Continue reading “Africanization” Disappears from NYT Headline
Dennis Kucinich is always dismissed as being "out there," a modern day Jerry Brown, but in this interview with Tucker Carlson about the impeachment of Dick Cheney, Kucinich is undeniably rational and level-headed. In the face of Carlson's manic thuggish questioning, Kucinich is unflappable. [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bELc-kjLR_E]
Jack Balkin over over at Balkinization says it best: As for Mr. Gonzales, he was a disgrace to the office. There are many roles he could have competently filled-- and did fill-- in his career. The Nation's chief law enforcement officer was not one of them. He abused his office for political gain, repeatedly misled… Continue reading Gonzales Resigns
I've written before about the creepy interrogation manual the CIA issued in 1983 on "Human Resource Exploitation." The precursor to this manual is the infamous Kubark report, written in 1963. This CIA document outlines various coercive and non-coercive methods of gathering "counterintelligence information" from uncooperative sources. Over forty years later, some of the coercive techniques… Continue reading The CIA, Interrogation, and Mortimer Snerd
So I did my jury service. More details later, but first I want to consider all the preliminaries that go up to the actual trial, namely jury selection and the question of "fairness." I went through the selection process for two different trials (the first trial was settled in a plea bargain just after the… Continue reading Can we really be fair?
Actually, this post is not about how to get out of jury duty. I'd be the wrong person to write that, since I'm in the jury assembly room right now, waiting to hear if I'll be called to serve for a trial. As I wait, I keep thinking back to the last time I was… Continue reading How to get out of jury duty
My current research project revolves around the use of torture in the so-called "War on Terror"---and I'm uncovering a wealth of astonishing, depressing material, much of it compliments of the U.S. government. Here is a page from a top secret CIA manual on "Human Resource Exploitation," distributed by CIA trainers in Latin America in the… Continue reading The CIA on Effective Arrests
It doesn’t attempt the kind of analysis I try with the State of the Union addresses, but chir.ag has a great visual tool that builds tag clouds for hundreds of important presidential speeches and texts, all the way back to the Declaration of Independence and George Washington's State of the Union speeches. The site has… Continue reading More Political Tag Clouds
Pattern Recognition has a word cloud for Bush's State of the Union address, in which words are weighted according to frequency. So, "terrorism" and "security" appear very, very bold, because Bush mentioned them time and time again in his address. And the word "plan" is much smaller, indicating that it was rarely used in Bush's… Continue reading Word Clouds for the State of the Union
This is the scariest freaking business I've read in a long time: Christopher Soghoian, a computer science student who had created an online generator for fake boarding passes--solely to point out how ludicrously ineffective airport security is--has been visited several times by the FBI, most recently, with a 2am warrant that allowed the Bureau to… Continue reading Fly the Fiendly Skies
The same thought trajectory that brought me to Le Bon's work on crowds has led me to something I should've read a long time ago: Hannah Arendt's The Origins of Totalitarianism. The Origins of Totalitarianism is Arendt's thoughtful and relentlessly critical dissection of totalitarian movements and nations. In a later chapter called "Totalitarianism in Power,"… Continue reading The Origins of Totalitarianism
It's been widely reported (and not just on the Daily Show) that new Presidential Press Secretary Tony Snow used the racist term "tar baby" in his first televised press briefing. Responding to a question about the NSA's secret wiretapping program, Snow answered: I am not going to stand up here and presume to declassify any… Continue reading Don’t Hug that Tar Baby
I discovered a gem tonight in Gustave Le Bon's classic 1895 study of crowds, La Psychologie des foules. "Civilisations as yet," Le Bon writes, "have only been created and directed by a small intellectual aristocracy, never by crowds. Crowds are only powerful for destruction." I like the tone of this. All fire and brimstone and… Continue reading The Crowd