Thursday, December 07, 2006


Y'all catching the TV commercial about getting heating oil at a 40 percent discount? It's sponsored by Citco Oil of Venezuela and fronted by former Democratic Senator Joe Kennedy. It's aimed at those who cannot afford to heat their homes.
But some in the Repiglican party have begun a whispering comapign aimed at attaching a stigma to enrolling in this privately funded program. They say that this is an attempt to shame the president by having a foreign nation do what the Bush Administration either cannot or will not do-provide heat for the less fortunate. The unspoken implication here is that no real American should accept charity if it embarasses the administration.
But the president and everyone in congress don't have to make a choice between being warm, having enought to eat or getting medical care this winter. And you can bet the mortgage on that.
Moreover, given his performance thus far, I seriously doubt George Bush will even catch on to the fact that he should be ashamed. I mean, he's six years in and still hasn't caught on. So what makes them think he'll grasp this concept?

Wednesday, December 06, 2006


Seems some of our friends over at the university got an object lesson last week when the Salisbury cops raided their party, sprayed some people with mace, broke into one of the partier's car, and just generally made pigs of themselves.
Welcome to the Real World, guys, where the cops do whatever they damned-please unless you know both the magic words and the intonation.
First, never raise your voice to the police; that gives them reason to arrest you for disturbing the peace. Second, never argue, get angry or call them names. You have to remember the cops lobby has put a lot of time and money into a campaign to persuade the public they are both heroic and infallible. It's gone on for so long that even they believe their own press.
Now, one might think they are powerless against cops who bully people on the street, but that's not true.
If you want to keep a confrontation with the cops from spinning out of control, maintain a conversational tone-firm, assertive and quiet. Second, if things look as if they're not going to be resolved peacably, tell the cop you don't see him working to resolve the issue, and demand to see the shift commander. Then, shut your mouth. You have a right to not speak to the police. Take advantage of it.
If the cop on the scene refuses that demand, then call 911 and tell them you need the shift commander on the scene. If the cop says the commander is busy, tell him you have plenty of time and you'll wait. Now you've put him in an uncomfortable position and he feels more like civilized discussion and less like ubercop, because he's not resolved the issue, he's wasting time on a routine call and he has to explain his behavior to his superior. .... You may not have the upper hand, but at least you're now on level ground, so take advantage of it and resolve the issue without going to jail, or getting maced, shot or stomped.


Well... it turns out there is some research on why otherwise ordinary, sane people become right-wing fanatics, marching around in a goose step and advocating everyone who does not conform to their moral, religious or political standards be sent to the ovens..... you know those people-- nazis and Reaganites and such. The report below is culled from the UC Berkeley News.

Researchers help define what makes a political conservative

By Kathleen Maclay, Media Relations | 22 July 2003 (revised 7/25/03)

BERKELEY – Politically conservative agendas may range from supporting the Vietnam War to upholding traditional moral and religious values to opposing welfare. But are there consistent underlying motivations?

Four researchers who culled through 50 years of research literature about the psychology of conservatism report that at the core of political conservatism is the resistance to change and a tolerance for inequality, and that some of the common psychological factors linked to political conservatism include:

Fear and aggression

Dogmatism and intolerance of ambiguity

Uncertainty avoidance

Need for cognitive closure

Terror management
"From our perspective, these psychological factors are capable of contributing to the adoption of conservative ideological contents, either independently or in combination," the researchers wrote in an article, "Political Conservatism as Motivated Social Cognition," recently published in the American Psychological Association's Psychological Bulletin.

Assistant Professor Jack Glaser of the University of California, Berkeley's Goldman School of Public Policy and Visiting Professor Frank Sulloway of UC Berkeley joined lead author, Associate Professor John Jost of Stanford University's Graduate School of Business, and Professor Arie Kruglanski of the University of Maryland at College Park, to analyze the literature on conservatism.

The psychologists sought patterns among 88 samples, involving 22,818 participants, taken from journal articles, books and conference papers. The material originating from 12 countries included speeches and interviews given by politicians, opinions and verdicts rendered by judges, as well as experimental, field and survey studies.

Ten meta-analytic calculations performed on the material - which included various types of literature and approaches from different countries and groups - yielded consistent, common threads, Glaser said.

The avoidance of uncertainty, for example, as well as the striving for certainty, are particularly tied to one key dimension of conservative thought - the resistance to change or hanging onto the status quo, they said.

The terror management feature of conservatism can be seen in post-Sept. 11 America, where many people appear to shun and even punish outsiders and those who threaten the status of cherished world views, they wrote.

Concerns with fear and threat, likewise, can be linked to a second key dimension of conservatism - an endorsement of inequality, a view reflected in the Indian caste system, South African apartheid and the conservative, segregationist politics of the late Sen. Strom Thurmond (R-South S.C.).

Disparate conservatives share a resistance to change and acceptance of inequality, the authors said. Hitler, Mussolini, and former President Ronald Reagan were individuals, but all were right-wing conservatives because they preached a return to an idealized past and condoned inequality in some form. Talk host Rush Limbaugh can be described the same way, the authors commented in a published reply to the article.

This research marks the first synthesis of a vast amount of information about conservatism, and the result is an "elegant and unifying explanation" for political conservatism under the rubric of motivated social cognition, said Sulloway. That entails the tendency of people's attitudinal preferences on policy matters to be explained by individual needs based on personality, social interests or existential needs.

The researchers' analytical methods allowed them to determine the effects for each class of factors and revealed "more pluralistic and nuanced understanding of the source of conservatism," Sulloway said.

While most people resist change, Glaser said, liberals appear to have a higher tolerance for change than conservatives do.

As for conservatives' penchant for accepting inequality, he said, one contemporary example is liberals' general endorsement of extending rights and liberties to disadvantaged minorities such as gays and lesbians, compared to conservatives' opposing position.

The researchers said that conservative ideologies, like virtually all belief systems, develop in part because they satisfy some psychological needs, but that "does not mean that conservatism is pathological or that conservative beliefs are necessarily false, irrational, or unprincipled."

They also stressed that their findings are not judgmental.

"In many cases, including mass politics, 'liberal' traits may be liabilities, and being intolerant of ambiguity, high on the need for closure, or low in cognitive complexity might be associated with such generally valued characteristics as personal commitment and unwavering loyalty," the researchers wrote.

This intolerance of ambiguity can lead people to cling to the familiar, to arrive at premature conclusions, and to impose simplistic cliches and stereotypes, the researchers advised.

The latest debate about the possibility that the Bush administration ignored intelligence information that discounted reports of Iraq buying nuclear material from Africa may be linked to the conservative intolerance for ambiguity and or need for closure, said Glaser.

"For a variety of psychological reasons, then, right-wing populism may have more consistent appeal than left-wing populism, especially in times of potential crisis and instability," he said.

Glaser acknowledged that the team's exclusive assessment of the psychological motivations of political conservatism might be viewed as a partisan exercise. However, he said, there is a host of information available about conservatism, but not about liberalism.

The researchers conceded cases of left-wing ideologues, such as Stalin, Khrushchev or Castro, who, once in power, steadfastly resisted change, allegedly in the name of egalitarianism.

Yet, they noted that some of these figures might be considered politically conservative in the context of the systems that they defended. The researchers noted that Stalin, for example, was concerned about defending and preserving the existing Soviet system.

Although they concluded that conservatives are less "integratively complex" than others are, Glaser said, "it doesn't mean that they're simple-minded."

Conservatives don't feel the need to jump through complex, intellectual hoops in order to understand or justify some of their positions, he said. "They are more comfortable seeing and stating things in black and white in ways that would make liberals squirm," Glaser said.

He pointed as an example to a 2001 trip to Italy, where President George W. Bush was asked to explain himself. The Republican president told assembled world leaders, "I know what I believe and I believe what I believe is right." And in 2002, Bush told a British reporter, "Look, my job isn't to nuance."

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Tuesday, December 05, 2006


Last January my lovely wife and I were sitting in our living room, one evening, enjoying the warmth and some mindless television when we heard the unmistakable sounds of a gunfight in the immediate vicinity of our home. It was a bit disconcerting. While she killed the lights I grabbed the phone and did the 911 thing. After hanging up the phone I shrugged into my jacket and mosied out to the corner to meet The Heat when they showed up. Thing is, it was some time before I actually spotted a marked cruiser-- maybe 10 minutes or more. But that's not to say the cops took their time about getting to the scene. Having grown up in the city, I learned to be aware of what's happening on the street. And what was happening was there was a sudden rush hour of non-descript vehicles in the neighborhood. Sedans, sportscars, pickup trucks and the like, and they all seemed to be going somewhere in a hurry... and none to the same place. If I had to posit an educated guess, I'd say they were undercover cops setting up a parameter with my house as ground-zero-- without the noise of lights and sirens.
In the fullness of time, a uniform did show up and took a report. But he told me we weren't the only ones to call in.
In the following days we discovered that someone had sustained a minor gunshot wound when two wannabe gangsters started busting caps over-- you guessed it, dope. Apparently one of the shooters was also a shootee, as it were, and caught a minor case of hight-speed lead poisoning. The other one, who the cops say was a bonehead named Riley Collick. Cops had been looking for him since then. But Collick surrendered to federal marshals in Baltimore today and is being held on federal fugative warrants there. .... Well, that's a load off my mind but it does sort of point up the ineffectiveness of the local cops.... a hometown boy who can hide from the cops for almost a year..... look guys, he's not at the doughnut shop so quit going there to look for him.