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Some Items Of Interest

Some items of interest (1) One of the most significant though under-discussed political issues is the Bush Administration's ongoing exploitation of t

Some items of interest
(1) One of the most significant though under-discussed political issues is the Bush Administration's ongoing exploitation of terrorism fears as a self-serving political tool. Barbara O'Brien at Mahablog has an exceptional post examining some of the psychological aspects of this cynical fear-mongering. The whole post is really worth reading, but she quotes one psychological study which found a correlation between one's level of fear and the likelihood that one will be a Bush supporter, and the study's authors made this point:

Allegiance to charismatic leaders may be one particularly effective mode of terror management. In Escape from Freedom, Eric Fromm (1941) proposed that loyalty to charismatic leaders results from a defensive need to feel a part of a larger whole, and surrendering one?s freedom to a larger-than-life leader can serve as a source of self-worth and meaning in life. Ernest Becker (The Denial of Death, 1973) posited that when mainstream worldviews are not serving people?s need for psychological security, concerns about mortality impel people to devote their psychological resources to following charismatic leaders who bolster their self worth by making them feel that they are valued participants in a great mission to heroically triumph over evil.

Isn't it about time for some more orange alerts? And I heard Newt Gingrich announcing last night on Fox News that Iran's President is the New Adolph Hitler (I thought that title was already taken by the other Axis of Evil member, Saddam Hussein). The President's State of the Union speech will undoubtedly be scarier than Halloween and Friday the 13th combined. Fear is the only weapon they have.

(2) Peter Daou has a new essay describing the relentless dynamic by which the establishment media propagates GOP narratives.

As usual, Peter's analysis is a must-read for anyone who is interested in having the blogosphere have an actual impact on events rather than exist merely as a therapeutic though ultimately inconsequential venting ground. Right now, that is the central challenge of the blogosphere -- to find a way to channel its intense and growing resolve, energy, anger and activism into a force which actually influences political events and dialogue, and Peter insightfully describes the process which needs to be overcome:..

Some items of interest

A few items of interests:

(1) One of the most significant though under-discussed political issues is the Bush Administration’s ongoing exploitation of terrorism fears as a self-serving political tool. Barbara O’Brien at Mahablog has an exceptional post examining some of the psychological aspects of this cynical fear-mongering. The whole post is really worth reading, but she quotes one psychological study which found a correlation between one’s level of fear and the likelihood that one will be a Bush supporter, and the study's authors made this point:

Allegiance to charismatic leaders may be one particularly effective mode of terror management. In Escape from Freedom, Eric Fromm (1941) proposed that loyalty to charismatic leaders results from a defensive need to feel a part of a larger whole, and surrendering one’s freedom to a larger-than-life leader can serve as a source of self-worth and meaning in life. Ernest Becker (The Denial of Death, 1973) posited that when mainstream worldviews are not serving people’s need for psychological security, concerns about mortality impel people to devote their psychological resources to following charismatic leaders who bolster their self worth by making them feel that they are valued participants in a great mission to heroically triumph over evil.

Isn't it about time for some more orange alerts? And I heard Newt Gingrich announcing last night on Fox News that Iran's President is the New Adolph Hitler (I thought that title was already taken by the other Axis of Evil member, Saddam Hussein). The President's State of the Union speech will undoubtedly be scarier than Halloween and Friday the 13th combined. Fear is the only weapon they have.

(2) Peter Daou has a new essay describing the relentless dynamic by which the establishment media propagates GOP narratives. As usual, Peter’s analysis is a must-read for anyone who is interested in having the blogosphere have an actual impact on events rather than exist merely as a therapeutic though ultimately inconsequential venting ground. Right now, that is the central challenge of the blogosphere -- to find a way to channel its intense and growing resolve, energy, anger and activism into a force which actually influences political events and dialogue, and Peter insightfully describes the process which needs to be overcome:

What's the common thread running through the past half-decade of Bush's presidency? What's the nexus between the Swift-boating of Kerry, the Swift-boating of Murtha, and the guilt-by-association between Democrats and terrorists? Why has a seemingly endless string of administration scandals faded into oblivion? Why do Democrats keep losing elections? It's this: the traditional media, the trusted media, the "neutral" media, have become the chief delivery mechanism of potent anti-Democratic and pro-Bush storylines. And the Democratic establishment appears to be either ignorant of this political quandary or unwilling to fight it. . . . Progressive bloggers and the millions of online activists whose conversations they shepherd are fighting to close the triangle. Sadly, Democrats will resist, out of fear. And the press will fight back, hard. Not to mention the anticipated wrath of the rightwing machine, built on the "liberal media" myth. Still, the latent power of the netroots is ignored at the political and media establishment's peril.

(3) Every time the Administration assures the public that its warrantless and lawless eavesdropping is confined only to "members of Al Qaeda and affiliated groups," it quite conspicuously goes out of its way to emphasize that the assurance it's giving is “limited to the program described by the President” (i.e., after The New York Times disclosed that specific program). The way in which it limits these statements strongly implies that there are other eavesdropping programs, beyond the one "described by the President," to which this limitation does not apply.

This oddly phrased limitation appeared several times in the long Press Release issued yesterday by the Justice Department to defend the NSA eavesdropping program (h/t Jeralyn). For instance, in responding to what it calls the “myth” that the eavesdropping “program is used to spy on innocent Americans,” the DoJ said this:

“The NSA terrorist surveillance program described by the President is only focused on members of Al Qaeda and affiliated groups.”

Similarly, the DoJ ended the document by emphasizing:

“Throughout this document, "the terrorist surveillance program" and "the NSA program" refer to the NSA activities described by the President.”

I first noticed this odd formulation when Alberto Gonzalez went on Larry King to defend the NSA eavesdropping and they had this odd exchange:

KING: Are you assuring that American citizens with nothing to hide have nothing to worry about?

GONZALES: Well, again, as the president indicated, and I'm only talking about what the president described to the American people in his radio address, we're talking about communication where one end of the communication is outside the United States and where we have reason to believe that a party on that communication is a member of al Qaeda or is a member of an affiliate group with al Qaeda.

Lawyers like Gonzalez and the other lawyers in the DoJ don’t use limiting language like this by accident. There is some reason they keep limiting their assurances this way.

Perhaps there is an enterprising reporter somewhere who could ask the DoJ or the White House whether there are warrantless eavesdropping programs aimed at Americans other than the “program described by the President.” The semantic limitation which the Administration keeps placing on its assurances certainly seems to demand that inquiry.

(4) Atrios lays out the two options -- and, to be sure, there are only two -- for how the Alito story will be perceived come Tuesday. Shouldn’t it be easy for Democrats to choose the one they want?
---posted by Glenn Greenwald

---posted by Glenn Greenwald

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