I don't know that it's this cut and dried (after all, look how optimistic the neocons were about the results of invading Iraq), but yes, I'd say that on the whole, the conservatives I know seem to be real bedwetters:
Political opinions are considered choices, and in Western democracies the right to choose one's opinions -- freedom of conscience -- is considered sacrosanct.
But recent studies suggest that our brains and genes may be a major determining factor in the views we hold.
A study at University College London in the UK has found that conservatives' brains have larger amygdalas than the brains of liberals. Amygdalas are responsible for fear and other "primitive" emotions. At the same time, conservatives' brains were also found to have a smaller anterior cingulate -- the part of the brain responsible for courage and optimism.
If the study is confirmed, it could give us the first medical explanation for why conservatives tend to be more receptive to threats of terrorism, for example, than liberals. And it may help to explain why conservatives like to plan based on the worst-case scenario, while liberals tend towards rosier outlooks.
"It is very significant because it does suggest there is something about political attitudes that are either encoded in our brain structure through our experience or that our brain structure in some way determines or results in our political attitudes," Geraint Rees, the neurologist who carried out the study, told the media.
Rees, who heads up UCL's Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience, was originally asked half-jokingly to study the differences between liberal and conservative brains for an episode of BBC 4's Today show that was hosted by actor Colin Firth. But, after studying 90 UCL students and two British parliamentarians, the neurologist was shocked to discover a clear correlation between the size of certain brain parts and political views.
He cautions that, because the study was carried out only on adults, there is no way to tell what came first -- the brain differences or the political opinions.
But evidence is beginning to accumulate that figuring out a person's political proclivities may soon be as simple as a brain scan -- or a DNA test.
One of the most important videos you've never seen is this one, in which Benjamin Netanyahu, 9 years ago -- thinking there is no record -- explains his actually strategy to inflict pain on the Palestinians. He also describes how easy it is to manipulate the US, and how he made sure that the Oslo Accords would mean nothing.
hit them hard. Not just one hit... but many painful [hits], so that the price will be unbearable. The price is not unbearable, now. A total assault on the Palestinian Authority. To bring them to a state of panic that everything is collapsing ... fear that everything will collapse... this is what we'll bring them to...
The woman Natanyahu is speaking to wonders if the world won't object to what Israel is doing to the occupied Palestinians (she uses the word occupiers herself. He says the world will say nothing, just that Israel is defending itself. As for the US...
“I know what America is. America is a thing that can be easily moved, moved in the right direction... Let's suppose that they [the Americans] will say something [i.e. to us Israelis] ... so they say it...” [i.e. so what?]
He then moves on to deal with the Oslo Accords. Under Oslo, Israel was to give back land in three phases. However, there was a loophole: if there were settlements or military bases, that land didn't have to be given back. So the question is, who defines what is a settlement or military site?
I received a letter – to me and to Arafat, at the same time ... which said that Israel, and only Israel, would be the one to define what those are, the location of those military sites and their size. Now, they did not want to give me that letter, so I did not give the Hebron agreement. I stopped the government meeting, I said: "I'm not signing." Only when the letter came, in the course of the meeting, to me and to Arafat, only then did I sign the Hebron agreement, or rather, ratify it. It had already been signed. Why does this matter? Because at that moment I actually stopped the Oslo accord.
The Oil Spill Commission held its first hearing on the BP Oil Spill in the Gulf of Mexico Monday at the New Orleans Hilton. During the public comment portion, local residents came forward to tell their own stories of loss and fear and frustration over the oil spill and the moratorium.
When words failed, music prevailed.
I don't remember a time where I've seen a hearing like this. I hope another never needs to take place. Whether the Commission hears or not, I did. We all should.
But for all their passion and courage, they concerned me. Many comments concerned their fear that a moratorium would destroy their business and their livelihoods. Others expressed concern that New Orleans would die for certain under a moratorium.
Their testimony left me wondering how on earth drilling can be made safer without a moratorium. It's a no-win situation, unless there is a way to structure the ban in a way that fast-tracks safety measures or other procedures are put in place to keep these people from losing everything they've worked so hard for.
These are the voices of the ones on the front line. Six kids and a second chance slipping from the grasp of a mom. A fisherman. A musician. And a life they've known slipping away from them.
I don't envy this Commission. There aren't any easy answers. On the one hand, these people see a moratorium as insult to injury. On the other hand, not imposing a moratorium gives them at least a shred of a hope they'll survive.
Prosecutors late last week, at a bail hearing for members of the Hutaree militia, played tape recordings of the kinds of things the Hutaree leaders were telling their followers. As I suggested back when the busts occurred, the evidence makes clear that these "Patriots" were telling the public one thing to present a "good citizen" face, while they were telling their followers quite another.
CNN has the audio, and it also presents a portrait of an apocalyptic religious cult that believes it's up against the forces of Satan, embodied in government workers, law enforcement officers, and United Nations soldiers:
"In this nation, we think we are free, but you need a certificate to be born, a license to drive, a permit to build, a number to get a job and even a paper after you die," says David Bryan Stone Sr., 45, the alleged head of the Hutaree militia, accused of conspiring to overthrow the government and plotting to kill police officers.
"These are permission slips from the terrorists organization called the new world order," Stone says in the tape, which was recorded clandestinely by an FBI agent who infiltrated the militia and obtained exclusively by CNN.
... "People in this nation as well as some around this world are waiting for those individuals like you see sitting in this room to actually make the decision to go to war against this evil, greedy new world order," Stone says on the tape.
"They need leaders who are not afraid to stand up and actually mean, 'No more.' We are free and we should not be afraid or ashamed to admit that we are the American militia. We outnumber them. As long as we let them terrorize any American through fear and intimidation, then they are winning this battle and we should step up to the fight that they have started and finish it."
... "Every day, we watch ever so close for those evil blue helmets to appear on our streets -- but as long as through Interpol, law enforcement mercenaries called the brotherhood working for the new world order are doing such a great job, then we don't need to watch for these foreign armies to come to our shores. They are already here," Stone says.
The striking aspect of the audio is the way Stone's rhetoric is essentially a logical outcome of basic Patriot-movement rhetoric about the "new world order" and "sovereignty" -- rhetoric that is nowadays gaining wide currency at Tea Party rallies and on their websites. Indeed, as we've been reporting for some time, the Tea Parties are fundamentally a revival of the '90s Patriot movement, this time with the blessing of official conservative-dom.
We've frequently discussed the political dimensions of this trend, but there's also an important religious component to it as well, an apocalyptic one brought into stark relief by the Hutaree folks. Frederick Clarkson at Religion Dispatches has a good piece examining this dimension in detail:
One question has tugged at my professional conscience throughout the year-long congressional debate over health-care reform, and it has nothing to do with the public option, portability or medical malpractice. It is this: Why haven't America's old-school news organizations blown the whistle on Roger Ailes, chief of Fox News, for using the network to conduct a propaganda campaign against the Obama administration -- a campaign without precedent in our modern political history?
Through clever use of the Fox News Channel and its cadre of raucous commentators, Ailes has overturned standards of fairness and objectivity that have guided American print and broadcast journalists since World War II. Yet, many members of my profession seem to stand by in silence as Ailes tears up the rulebook that served this country well as we covered the major stories of the past three generations, from the civil rights revolution to Watergate to the Wall Street scandals. This is not a liberal-versus-conservative issue. It is a matter of Fox turning reality on its head with, among other tactics, its endless repetition of its uber-lie: "The American people do not want health-care reform."
For the first time since the yellow journalism of a century ago, the United States has a major news organization devoted to the promotion of one political party. And let no one be misled by occasional spurts of criticism of the GOP on Fox. In a bygone era of fact-based commentary typified, left to right, by my late colleagues Scotty Reston and Bill Safire, these deceptions would have been given their proper label: disinformation.
I try not to believe that this kid-gloves handling amounts to self-censorship, but it's hard to ignore the evidence...read on
I think for a long time the MSM was worried about being labeled as having a "liberal bias' and got so used to the criticism that they internalized it. But when the liberal blogosphere came onto the picture and was horrified at what we were witinessing they weren't used to handling criticism from the left and instead of looking at their own behavior, they lashed out at us like they never would to the right.
Now I believe they are just down right scared of the right. They are afraid to have their email boxes filled with psycho rants, they are afraid that the comment sections in their on-line articles will have to be shut down and they are afraid of the backlash AM talk radio will whip up against them individually. Fearmongering doesn't only work on our national security front.
Watching the elite Beltway press actually rally around Fox News last year after the White House called it out as an illegitimate outlet for real news was one of the saddest journalism spectacles in recent memory. Recall that during the Bush years, the GOP White House often cooked up allegations and lashed out at prominent (i.e. genuine) news organizations, such as NBC and the New York Times, and I don't recall anybody rallying around them.
But when a Democratic administration called out Fox News for what it really is, a GOP propaganda tool (i.e. the Opposition Party), the same D.C. press corps played defense for Murdoch's dishonest empire and actually demanded Dems back off.
But I think the huge majority of it is explained quite simply: fear or the 'liberal media bias' charge. Conservatives have been pounding the press for more than four decades about their alleged bias and the Beltway press corps has developed rabbit ears when it comes to the allegation. And frankly, there's plenty of evidence that jouranlists are terrified of the charge and nervous about what can happen to their careers if that tag sticks.
So what's an easy way to prove you're not liberal? (Aside from becoming lapdogs during the Bush years.) You pretend Fox News is legit. You pretend that sure, Ailes has some opinion guys on at night, but there's a clear dividing line between the news and opinion. You pretend that Fox News is just the mirror opposite of MSNBC.
Basically, you sign off on a charade that, as Raines points out, any newsroom pro can see is a complete joke.
David and I have the goods and we'll be exposing more about FOX soon enough in our new book, but I think the journalism community should know that we'll have their backs if they do stand up and do the right thing. Howard Kurtz likes to argue that MSNBC does the same for the left because they have a three hour block of center left opinion shows, but FOX News promotes the GOP agenda throughout their entire 24 hour cycle. And did you see MSNBC actively support the left at the height of the anti-Iraq war protests and send their hosts down to flame the fires at those protests? Eric's points are well taken, but fear is now guiding them and I don't mean because they would be labeled liberals.
Tally the number of times that Liz Cheney and her partner Bill Kristol have been correct in their assessments in their hundreds of hours of airtime: which is, not to put too fine a point on it, NEVER.
Or like Rachel Maddow, demonstrate how their insidious and poor logic could be applied to anyone, including Liz Cheney herself, as an Al Qaeda sympathizer.
No, no, no...you silly liberal expecting journalism from Wolf Blitzer. Wolfie simply regurgitates Cheney's talking points, right down to the ridiculous name-calling (Department of Jihad? Really? You would have lost what little is left of your mind if someone said that during the Bush Administration, Lizzy. How disgusting.) for a full eight minute segment, blissfully unhampered by this little thing called reality.
Glenn Beck has all kinds of interesting political theories. Like the one he posed yesterday at the CPAC convention:
Beck: But I am tired of 40 percent of this country -- 40 percent! -- say they're conservative. Now how many more are out there that don't want to say they're conservative because, 'You just want to kill and eat children' -- [wolfing sound].
Forty percent! Thirty-six percent say they're moderates. What is it, twenty percent? Twenty percent say they're ... liberals. How are they making seventy-six percent feel like they're the minority.
The majority does not rule in America. But the minority shouldn't hijack it!
And it's because we're afraid -- they have isolated us and made us feel we're alone. We're not!
See, Glenn, here's the way it works in the real world: Every conservative sees anyone who is not a conservative -- including moderates -- as a liberal. They're usually vocal about letting us know that. In fact, that's how a lot of us former moderates wound up becoming proud liberals over the past 10 years or so.
Now, notice that Beck lumps moderates in with conservatives as part of the great majority that's being bullied around by mean conniving liberals. He does so without any explanation. But the reality is, the majority of moderates are considered "liberals" by most conservatives, and indeed many of them eschew the "liberal" label precisely out of fear of being called a communist child molester by the likes of Glenn Beck.
Which is why what you're actually looking at is about 56 percent of the country keeping that nutcase 40 percent in check.
You know, the 40 percent that wrecked the global economy by deregulating the most powerful financial sector on the planet into an Indian casino. The 40 percent who convinced enough moderates that Al Gore invented the Internet and that John Kerry didn't deserve his Purple Heart, resulting in a conservative administration that not only wrecked the economy, but drove us into an illegal and unnecessary war, made us more vulnerable to terrorism than ever, and gutted our ability to respond to national emergencies.
No wonder that 36 percent bloc of moderate largely voted en masse with liberals in the last election.
And last we looked, that comprised a real majority. Glenn Beck and his conservative minions may not like that reality, but it's one they created. No wonder they're working so hard to invent an alternative.
The Board of the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists at the University of Chicago has kept a Doomsday Clock since 1947, gauging how serious the degree of global nuclear, environmental and technological is. It has been as far back as 17 minutes to midnight in 1981 with the Soviet/US Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, and as close as 2 minutes to midnight in 1953, when the US and Soviets were actively testing thermonuclear devices within months of each other.
Since 2007, the Doomsday Clock has stood at 5 minutes before Midnight, a response not only to North Korea's testing of nuclear devices, but of the generalized fear of non-state players getting nuclear materials and of the lack of real policy to combat global climate change.
In a statement supporting the decision to move the minute hand of the Doomsday Clock, the BAS Board said: “It is 6 minutes to midnight. We are poised to bend the arc of history toward a world free of nuclear
weapons. For the first time since atomic bombs were dropped in 1945, leaders of nuclear weapons states are cooperating to vastly reduce their arsenals and secure all nuclear bomb-making material. And for the first time ever, industrialized and developing countries alike are pledging to limit climate-changing gas emissions that could render our planet nearly uninhabitable. These unprecedented steps are signs of a growing political will to tackle the two gravest threats to civilization -- the terror of nuclear weapons and runaway climate change.”[..]
“This hopeful state of world affairs leads the boards of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists — which include 19 Nobel laureates — to move the minute hand of the Doomsday Clock back from five to six minutes to midnight. By shifting the hand back from midnight by only one additional minute, we emphasize how much needs to be accomplished, while at the same time recognizing signs of collaboration among the United States, Russia, the European Union, India, China, Brazil, and others on nuclear security and on climate stabilization.”
“A key to the new era of cooperation is a change in the U.S. government’s orientation toward international affairs brought about in part by the election of Obama. With a more pragmatic, problem-solving approach, not only has Obama initiated new arms reduction talks with Russia, he has started negotiations with Iran to close its nuclear enrichment program, and directed the U.S. government to lead a global effort to secure loose fissile material in four years. He also presided over the U.N. Security Council last September where he supported a fissile material cutoff treaty and encouraged all countries to live up to their disarmament and nonproliferation obligations under the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty …”
This really is a national disgrace. There are numerous studies linking this epidemic of prison sexual abuse to eventual committing of violent crime, yet there seems to be no concerted or sustained effort to force prisons to deal with it at the source. Every once in a while, some kind of report comes out and there's a big fuss, but nothing changes:
The Justice Department reported Thursday that 12 percent of incarcerated juveniles, or more than 3,200 young people, had been raped or sexually abused in the past year by fellow inmates or prison staff, quantifying for the first time a problem that has long troubled lawmakers and human rights advocates.
The report comes as those advocates say that the Obama administration is moving too slowly on reforms that would reduce rape in U.S. prisons and as corrections officials are pressing Justice to overhaul reform proposals it is reviewing.
Four former commissioners on a blue-ribbon prison rape panel that spent years studying the issue say they fear that authorities are deferring to concerns by corrections officials that reforms would cost too much, while not focusing enough on prison safety and the effects of abuse on inmates.
The study by the department's Bureau of Justice Statistics reported a "very high rate of staff sexual misconduct" against juvenile inmates. It cited two facilities in Virginia and one in Maryland, among others.
"These figures are appalling," said Pat Nolan, president of Justice Fellowship, a group that advocates for prison reform. "We stripped a prisoner of their ability to defend themselves. They can't control where they go; they can't control whether the shower has a light bulb in it."