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Friday, December 24, 2004

 

Next Question

Week two's Spectrum Perspective will be on the US electoral process, exact wording available soon....

 

Week One: I.C. reads Q.M.

I see no need to force people to be informed. If they don't want to be then it is Darwinism in action...societal Darwinism being the only place that his theory has been proven.

If I might quibble, Quilly--what part of Darwin's theory has not been proven? What part has?

Well, first, what is Darwin's theory? That the offspring of a species are slightly different from their parents, and that the offspring better suited to their environment will prosper and reproduce; further, Darwin speculated that over time, this change—let us call it evolution, though Darwin called it transformism—would change a species of animal so much that it becomes an entirely different species.

This is called "natural selection," and it has been proven, again and again, to be scientific fact. It can be seen in the ligers of Africa, who prove that Tiger and Lion descend from a common ancestor; in the birds of the Galapagos Islands, whose beaks can change shape in mere generations; in the breeding records of the Westminster Kennel Club, freely available at their annual dog show.

Of course when people say, "evolution has never been proven," they mean, "it has never been proven that man descends from monkeys." That is true, and will remain true until the time machine gets back from the shop. The debate is between those who think that the well-demonstrated law of natural selection probably applies to humans just as it applies to the animal kingdom, and those who see something wholly unnatural—divine, some would say, a word which here means precisely the same thing as unnatural, "something that cannot be explained by nature"—in mankind and reason that there must therefore have been some supernatural process at work in the beginning of mankind. In general, the question is, are we of the Earth, or beyond the Earth?

It's a question beyond the scope of this blog, of course. And whichever way you fall on it, Darwin's ideas are too important and complex to be reduced to a simple one liner. A rather stupid Englishman named Herbert Spencer coined the phrase "survival of the fittest" when he invented Social Darwinism, a philosophy as opposed to a theory, and something of which Charles Darwin vehemently disapproved, as Social Darwinism was invented mostly as a way to make the Robber Barons feel better about not giving a shit for poor people.

It hasn't changed much since, although apparently it's now an excuse for not caring about stupid people, too.


 

Week 1 TheCO resonds to the QM

Actually QM, most of America does differentiate between you and the current 'leadership' by calling the current yahoo at sixteen hundred Pennsylvania Ave and his ilk "Neo-Cons". In truth, just about everyone who's not pulling the pork of one Neo-Con or another readily admits that the Neo-Cons appear to combine the worst aspects of the 'tax and spend liberals' and the 'Bible or Brimstone conservatives' (see i was a good boy and didn't refer to them as the Religious Reich this time!) . Bush is after all the first President never to veto a spending bill. Even Tubby Teddy the Grand Duke of Kennedyia has voted against a spending bill or two.


He of the splendid Quillage spoke so eruditely:

Actually, while Vlad had a bit of an idea...Radical Islamic
Fundamentalism
is dangerous...I'm not really a Conservative.

Conservatives, as currently portrayed, and which many of them believe,
is
keeping God in the Public Square and kicking the ass of the foreign
bastards
that screw with us. Now that is not without merit; but my personal
belief
is that the most powerful government should be the one down the street
from
your house. From that center of government should emanate the care of
the
_truly_ unfortunate and the dismissal of those that are either
parasites or
predators.





 

Passed to me by the Quilly.

Actually, while Vlad had a bit of an idea...Radical Islamic
Fundamentalism
is dangerous...I'm not really a Conservative.

Conservatives, as currently portrayed, and which many of them believe,
is
keeping God in the Public Square and kicking the ass of the foreign
bastards
that screw with us. Now that is not without merit; but my personal
belief
is that the most powerful government should be the one down the street
from
your house. From that center of government should emanate the care of
the
_truly_ unfortunate and the dismissal of those that are either
parasites or
predators.

As for the question of Big Media. Oh Bother, Pooh!

Right now the Rightie blogs seem to have ascendancy because, in fact,
the
Main Stream Media is not only unethical, but they lean to the left.
Should
this change I can imagine that folks like Wonkette and Kos will have
meaning. Imagine Free Speech in Boston when the only paper was owned
by a
man loyal to the crown. Soon many other papers were founded and found
a
market to plumb and people to inform. B. Franklin took that Idea of a
dissident press to Philadelphia and shortly all hell broke loose.

The Sheeple will watch the MSM; mind-numbed Dems will watch CBS, ABS
and NBS
and their counterparts will watch Fox. Those that wish to actually
learn
will find a way...as it always has been, A Society where that does not
happen is doomed; and I see no need to force people to be informed. If
they
don't want to be then it is Darwinism in action...societal Darwinism
being
the only place that his theory has been proven.

QM

Thursday, December 23, 2004

 

Week One—The Calimari

The concentration of wealth and power in the hands of the few is the death knell of democracy. No republic in the history of humanity has survived this.

——Garrison Keillior

Columbia Journalism Review has a fascinating list of which companies in America own what. The second half of the twentieth century was a time when we witnessed something very sinister, in which a chart reflecting the various news sources in this country ceased to be a crowded jumble of various, contradictory voices, and started to look like an octopus—el calimari, as Gore Vidal put it— with every tentacle leading, ultimately, to the same few dark and hungry beaks. On the New York Post website, there is a banner that can direct you to papers from dozens of countries—all of them owned by Murdoch. Just before I left Utah, the paper I read as a child, The Salt Lake Tribune, was taken over by Media News Group, Inc., the same company that owns the Charleston Daily Mail, the "local" paper where I now live, half a continent away.

Of course, the big media tycoons and the independent voices have co-existed for a very long time. The Rupert Murdoch's of this country have been driving us into unnecessary, pointless wars since William Randolph Hearst blamed the sinking of the U.S.S. Maine on shadowy Enemies of Freedom and started the Spanish-American War. And those of use with the ability to think for ourselves have always been able to find independent voices, from the Abolitionist newspapers of the 1840's to the indie weekly paper where I was a summer intern the year before I started high school.

And we don't lack voices from either side of the aisle, as Michael Moore and Rush Limbaugh prove. We also have smart people in media, despite Michael Moore and Rush Limbaugh. The problem is that both Michael Moore and Rush Limbaugh are tentacles of the same calimari. The same company that put up the money to make Fahrenheit 9-11 owns Limbaugh's home station. (That company, ironically, is Disney.)

That's a strength of capitalism, right? Certainly Ayn Rand would say so: no matter what your beliefs, if you can get people to watch you, you can get on TV.

Well, here's the sinister part: these eleven companies that own ninety percent of the news sources in America all report the same news. Here's a pop quiz, kids: which enormously influential, wealthy and long-lived leader of an Arab country died in the run-up to 2004 presidential election?

If you said Shiekh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, president of the United Arab Emirates, congratulations—you're from Europe! The number of people I known in this country who knew about Sheikh Zayed's death when it happened number precisely four. The number who knew about his death and have never been American ambassador to Abu Dhabi is just three!

Sheik Zayed was president of the UAE from 1971 until 2004. That's over thirty years. In that time he was one of the most influential and powerful men in the Middle East. He spent decades building hospitals, schools and universities across his country, he was tolerant of Christians, his majlis (a traditional Arab council) was open to the public, he even gave up hunting with firearms to encourage conservation—in short, he was one of the most liberal, democratic leaders in the entire region. He advocated the presence of women in the workplace and allowed a private media; not with as much freedom as we have here, unfortunately, but a thousand times better than Iran or even Russia. In other words, precisely the sort of person we want to be encouraging, supporting and helping.

Yet not one person in the American media have I heard lament his passing. Does Tucker Carlson know who Sheik Zayed was? No. Bob Novak? Hell, no. Does Michael Moore? Michael Moore knows that the Saudi embassy is right next door to the Watergate apartments, an irony I have known and appreciated since I was fifteen.

So we can sit back and listen to the folks on Crossfire or Hardball or Can 'o Whoop-Ass argue about today's scandal, that Yasser Arafat may have owned part of the bowling alley Rudy Giuliani went to—you think I could make that up?—and congratulate ourselves that we have people both red-faced-with-fury and blue-in-the-face-from-yelling on TV. We can sit back and listen to conflicts as scripted and substance-free as the WWF while el calimari gobbles us all up. It would be easy.

The fact that we might do that is the greatest threat to America today.


The above entry may come off as hostile to Michael Moore. I would like to remind readers that Moore wrote and directed one of the better pieces of political satire ever put on film, 1995's Canadian Bacon, with Alan Alda, John Candy, Rhea Perlman, Kevin Pollak, Rip Torn and Wallace Shawn, some of the best in the business. Looking for a documentary? Check out Control Room. Political commentary through the magic of satire? Michael Moore's way funnier than IMAO.

 

Question for the Mods

Just a quick question for Casual or any of the Web Dominatrixes. What is the preferred posting etiquette for replies to an original post? I ask for a few reasons.

1) The bold typeface in the comments section is a bit hard to read, especially when quoting someone else to post a rebuttal. But I don't want to take all my responses into the public forum and clutter up the blog. What would you prefer? Keeping the debate in the comments? Or bringing it out for all to see?

2) Has anyone considered a commenting system, like HaloScan or something similar? It might be easier to debate with something that's a bit more user friendly that the default Blogger commenting section.

3) Are you resetting the main page week by week? If the blog will be archived every 7 days or so, then posting everything publicly won't be that big an issue, and there will be less clutter.


Just a few things on my mind.

Thanks!
~tcl

 

Week 1: The Biggest Threat To America

So far my esteemed collegues have touched on maturity, economic definitions, applying "Third World" ideas to the US, and the American people themselves. However, there's one topic I haven't seen that could be considered an addition to the American people: stupidity.

What is stupidity, you ask? Stupidity is the sort of mob mentality flowing, unchecked, through the United States like a menstrual period with no tampon(you're welcome for that mental image, too). After 9/11, the collective mental state of the American people became a red-neck hunter-inspired "Let's kill us some foreigners(pronounced FAW-ren-erz)."

This could turn into a rant on why Iraq was a bad idea(I've had plenty of those, most involving trying desperately to reason with an unreasonable retired US Army First Sergeant), or why I hate George W Bush(I do), or why religion really could be the downfall of civilized society(that one's gonna get me flamed), but right now I'd prefer to rant on the reasons all of these things have happened: the American people's own stupidity.

See, after terrorists decided to crash some jumbo jets into the World Trade Center, Americans have been like a giant herd of sheep that just happen to know how to vote(well, half of them know how to vote). Every conservative I talk to spouts off what they've heard from George Bush or Bill O'Reilly or their equally conservative parents(I hate high school) like it came straight from the mouth of God, and when confronted with a logical, reasonable argument, they decide, instead of listening and making up their own mind for a change, to call me an idiot and/or a traitor.

I think I have a reason for this, too. Ever since television became the #1 babysitter in America, Americans have been less and less eager to think for themselves. George Bush & Co. noticed this, and while using 9/11 as a catalyst, launched a massive operation to control the thoughts and beliefs of most Americans.

I know this sounds far-fetched, and it probably didn't happen exactly as I say it, but you get the gist of it. I'm simply trying to say Americans have become mentally lazy. Why do we need to think of a way to fix Social Security when we can just get rid of it and throw it to the stock market wolves? Why do we need to demand a plan for Iraq when George Bush says everything will be OK and assures us we're fighting the good fight and winning? The conservative side is the side for people who don't like to come up with real solutions. It's the quick way out of a problem for people who are too lazy to think about a real fix. America's own stupidity has given us another 4 years of George Bush (mis)running the country, and therefore given Americas another 4 years to not worry about thinking for themselves. My question is, how bad will it have to get before we have to scrape the cobwebs out of our heads and hope we still know how to use that soft mass of gray matter?

I turn 18 in 12 days and I get it, why doesn't the rest of the country?

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

 

[Week 1] ~TCL's Reply to M.Z. Williamson

No, I don't think it matters what Eurowussies think of us. Do THEY consider the needs of Americans when they vote?

Probably more than Americans care about their vote. Do you think the majority of Americans even pay attention when another country votes? But you can bet the rest of the civilized world is watching and waiting for the outcome of our elections. It's a difference in worldview that is most likely due to educational standards, or lack thereof. And, unless you meant it in jest, calling them Eurowussies is tantamount to Tucker Carlson's comment about dogsledding Canadians, and it just further exemplifies my original point.

Near as I can tell, the vocal Euros want to take everything fundamentally American away from the US and make it more like Europe... Conversely, to be fair, I don't want us wasting time or money trying to Americanize Europe.

I think that everyone wants to disrupt our way of living. It's the price you have to pay for being a powerful nation. Envy breeds contempt. It's the same type of mentality that we show towards celebrities. Some people are in awe of them, and simultaneously hate them, for no reason other than they are successful and rich. That's one of the reasons that, as a country, we are disliked. America is at the top, we know it, and we proudly flaunt it. That tends to piss people off. Those people develop a deep-seated resentment towards us, but since we're the World Superpower, and attacking us would be crazy, they bide their time. Simmer in their juices. Let the hate fester. If you say "You're with us or against us" enough times, then you'll start to get a nice sized "against us" list.

If you think the press is only reporting the GOOD side of the war, you're smoking crack. I know first hand a LOT more about what's going on over there than anyone on this list.

How so? I mean, how specifically are you more in-tune to what's going on than anyone else? I'm not trying to be disrespectful, but that is a hefty claim to make, so I'm curious.

The mainstream press is whoring for ratings by taking everything they can in as anti-American a fashion as possible. Minor issues with local Iraqis and minor morale problems are being blown up as "We're losing the war!"

If they actually reported what was happening in an unbiased fashion, 90% of Americans would support what we're doing. (Yes, I'm aware the original reasons for the invasion no longer apply. That happens in war. There are, however, sufficient reasons to still be there. See Roosevelt's WWII attack on North African countries who were not involved with Germany...yet.)


Actually, I believe that if the American press acted more like the International press, and stopped tossing out softball questions or crying foul when a soldier asks a hard-hitting, and intelligent question (which was NOT planted by reporter Edward Pitts, by the way), then more people would be against what we are doing. War is hell, and Americans need to know that. We need to SEE what is happening in order to be able to fully understand it. A 15 second montage of wounded soldiers, burnt-out vehicles and shaky video of insurgents with RPG's doesn't really give people an accurate picture of what's going on. We're not even allowed to see dead soldiers' coffins being taken off the plane. Heaven forbid that someone complain to the FCC that they were offended by the sight of a flag-draped casket, or that a broadcast firefight upset them.

Putting aside the original reasons given to us for being in Iraq, I agree that pulling our soldiers out now would make a bad situation worse. Whether we like it or not, we're committed, so we might as well do our best to rectify the situation instead of throwing in the towel. Civil unrest is bad, but civil war is worse.

I do agree on the partisanship being a problem. People I thought of as friends were acting positively pogromish after the election. "Everyone who voted for Bush is an illiterate, nigger-whuppin', Christofascist, inbred, bucktoothed, redneck moron." Right. I meet none of those criteria, nor do any of my friends. Most of us voted for Bush.

The same way that everyone who voted for Kerry is a "pussy, un-american, God-hating hippy-loving Communist?" Stones were thrown from both sides. I don't fit any of these criteria (well, maybe a bit of the God-hate applies), but people love to stick you with those labels, and to use it to their advantage whenever possible. To quote a recent Get Fuzzy, just because you keep saying something is true, doesn't make it true. However, it makes the stupid people believe it's true.

And I fear that if that attitude persists, the Dems have given up any hope of winning 2008 already. Now, does ANYONE rational want a ONE party system? I don't. One of the things I like most about this area is the candidate forums at the library. Very few Dems ever win around here, but people DO attend, DO ask questions and DO listen to the answers. And the candidates are thanked earnestly for participating.

To be honest, I think that if the Democrats are serious about putting up Hillary in '08, then the're just fighting a lost cause. And I don't think anyone in their right mind would want a single party system. I also don't think that a 2 party system is much to brag about. That's just giving you the usual "lesser of 2 evils" ultimatum.

If I had to add a minor threat to the list (because I don't see it changing), is the "I'd love to vote for a third party but I don't want to throw my vote away." I hope those people will be the ones who stay home. Endorsing a candidate you don't support IS "Throwing your vote away."

I'll agree with you on this one. No vote is better than a careless vote.

 

Wk1: America’s biggest problem? By James Livingston reposted by me/

The biggest problem facing America right now is work. Put it as two questions. How do we occupy ourselves, and why? What is the proper relation between your effort and your reward, between your work and your income?

It used to be that our occupations defined us. Once upon a time, work was the cauldron in which your character was forged. In some ways, it still is. Who hasn’t been asked “What do you do?” And then watched as expectations took shape on the face, in the eyes, of the stranger who asked the question?

A century ago, there was a similar sense of crisis, or at least frustration, in trying to define the meaning and significance of work. The Populists and the socialists claimed that the paper-pushing mental labor of bankers, lawyers, merchants, and intellectuals—all those prissy “middlemen”—was not productive. In fact they insisted that such labor was parasitic.

By this they meant that the incomes of the bankers, et al., were deducted from the sum of value created by others, by the productive labor of the “toiling millions.” Their assumption was that your consumption of goods was authorized by your production of goods. You weren’t supposed to get more than you contributed to the sum of value, to the stock of real, tangible goods.

Not a bad idea, mind you. It’s what animates some of the more strenuous versions of the labor theory of value—including that purveyed by Marx.

But with the rise of a corporate kind of capitalism, mental labor became central to every enterprise and every sphere of social life. Witness the emergence of higher education as we know it, ca. 1890-1920. Witness the little magazines, the young intellectuals, the government agencies employing sincere young men and the settlement houses employing sincere young women, all in the same moment.

This kind of mental labor looked suspicious from the standpoint of most Americans, not just Populists and socialists (although, if you do the math, these folks were probably the majority of voters in 1894 or 1896). Then as now, people wanted a transparent, tangible, reasonable relation between effort and reward—you were supposed to earn what you received as income.

But how to measure this relation? What exactly do intellectuals and other paper pushers do? Like bankers and lawyers, they clearly don’t produce anything tangible or measurable, or even enjoyable.

The crisis of a century ago was solved by admitting mental labor into the category of work as such, but it took a while. The question, then as now, was How should we think about the relation between effort and reward, between work and income? The question never went away, of course, and it has been answered in interesting ways by recent “reforms” of both welfare and Medicare, under both liberal and conservative presidents, as well as by Social Security and other redistributive programs.

But we are now at a real crossroads. There is no way that private investment can produce enough jobs to employ even the slowing growth of the labor force. Since 1919, we have seen economic growth (larger output of goods and increasing productivity), as a result of declining net private investment and of declining labor inputs to expanded goods production.

Since the 1930s, public policy has acknowledged this very basic fact by attempting to detach the receipt of income from the production of value through work—via the programs I already mentioned, but also by developing the notion of “human capital,” by treating education as the basic industry of the U.S., by trying to come to terms with what is clearly a “post-industrial society.”

But what now is to be done? None of us, left or right, wants to abolish a transparent, tangible, reasonable relation between effort and reward, between work and income. That’s why we tell our children to work hard in school, and why we laugh, or cringe, when someone says Jack Welch earned what he now gets from G.E.

What is to be done is, quite simply, to stop acting as if we can restore the moral universe of the 19th century. We have to understand that our rewards are not, and cannot be, the function of our measurable efforts. I’m not invoking luck here, people, I’m telling you that there’s not enough work to do. And the private sector, the “supply side,” can’t change that. Either we redefine work or we redefine income.

This is the biggest problem because it is at once an economic, a social, a political, and, most importantly, a moral problem.

P.S. Matthew: MM got this from me, not vice versa: see Pragmatism and Political Economy (1994), Part I


Reposted from: Politics and Letters since James is having techical difficulties

 

Week One: What troubles America most.

So, first, let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself—nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance.
Franklin Delano Roosevelt 1933

America is really a young nation. At a bare two centuries of independence, it hasn’t fully grown used to the spaces inside its skin. Like a youth just after a fresh growth spurt America is gangly, awkward, and often gets in her own way. It’s not something she can avoid, it simply is. The only honorable path around inexperience is through the needed lessons. Like most adolescents, whether consciously or not, she looks to the older more experienced nation to see how they do all those things she has never done. While she’s gained the experience to know right from wrong, good from ill and her likes and wants, as does an adult, her first reaction to things new and strange is still that of a child, fear.

Much as some nations have earned the credibility to be respected, and followed, it is not their job to lead America by her hand. It is ours. That task belongs to others it is yours it is mine. We are America’s guardians. We need to properly and honorably conduct her through the first tremulous steps of adulthood. We need to abandon the silly nursery rhymes of fear, and sing the paeans of reason. To often Americans allow fear to dictate things it ought not to. Gun control, immigration, marriage, proactive wars, why do we do this? We know that someone is less likely to strike at a strong target, and yet we weaken ourselves. We know that almost the entire population of America is descended from recent immigrants, yet we balk at more. We worry so much about what other adults might be doing that we rush to ban it with no thought given to how it would affect us, and which is the greater evil. We are all children. Until Americans grow up, America will not. Unreasoning fear lies not in the province of adulthood.

I claim adulthood.

 

Biggest threat?

You want just one?

As an immigrant, the threat I've always feared the most is the, "Well, they do XX in Smulgaria, therefore we should, too! That it works there proves it's good, quid pro quo!"

Actually, no. Unless you can prove X works well in a constitutional republic composed of idealistic individualists, you aren't even on the same page.

Also, the person claiming X is frequently picking a special circumstance and ignoring others. There are few guns in Japan, and a very low violent crime rate. There are few in the UK, and triple the violent crime rate of the US. There are lots in Israel and Switzerland, and crime in both is near zero (discounting terror and war in Israel as being beyond the scope of typical crime an individual can have any control over).

Whether it's speech, defense, taxes, vehicles, the environment, I really don't give a crap how it's done in the Third World, which I define as anywhere outside the US and Canada. And before you get pissed off, I was born and raised in the UK. IT IS a Third World hellhole by comparison, and it only gets worse from there. With exceptions like Switzerland, the Seychelles, Kuwait if you can stand the religious bias, there's nowhere I'd favorably compare to here.

Any suggestion for the US needs to be considered as to its effect in the US legal and social system. That it works elsewhere proves nothing, nor does the fact that it works at all make it moral or appropriate for our society.

Mike

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

 

Week One - Politikat's View

The Biggest Threat to America Today – the American People

I don't mean everyone in America. I'm talking about the eligible citizens who don't vote. The apathetic citizens who simply don't care enough to have a say in what happens with our country. The past few presidential elections have hovered around 50% voter turnout, this year's election was at about 56% turnout. What's wrong with this picture?

The excuses for not voting are many and varied, including (but certainly not limited to):
• "I don't have time." Vote absentee, it's easy and you can do it whenever you want, as long as your ballot gets in before Election Day.
• "My vote doesn't count." Every vote counts towards the electorate, and if everyone who said that had voted, the results may have been different.
• "I can't get off work." The law allows up to 3 hours off to go vote. If you are out of town, vote absentee.
• "I don't want to vote for this office/ on this proposition/ etc." You don't have to, vote for what you want to vote for, leave the others blank if you don't want to vote on it.
• "If I vote, they will get my name and call me for Jury Duty." Guess what, most states use lists of driver's licenses, not voter rolls. I have a family friend who is a legal resident, but a Canadian citizen. She's been called for Jury Duty several times.

Then after not voting, they bitch about what is wrong with this country. If you don't vote, you can't bitch, simple as that.

Voting is not just the right and privilege that most people think of it as; it is also a DUTY.

 

[Week 1] ~TCL's View

Question: What is the biggest threat to America?
Answer: Americans.

Well, I guess I'll be the first to jump in here. Note - for reading ease, I will be placing all links to sited sources at the bottom of the page. Just match the little red numbers. =)

This is a good broad question to start us out, but it's a bit vague; personally, I think that we can group our biggest threats into 4 categories. Political, Social, Economical and Military (ideas for later topics, Casual?) That being said, I wrote this because I feel that the greatest threat to our lives, and or way of living, is ourselves.

We are a nation divided. It should come to no surprise to you if you even glance at the newspaper. Both parties spew animosity and hatred towards each other. We have not made much of an effort to work together, united as Americans, instead of seperated by affiliation. We need to put the election to rest, retire the bitching and the gloating, and focus on something productive. For starters, we could pay more attention to life outside of the US. Let's be honest; when it comes to foreign affairs, we would rather watch Survivor - Africa than the BBC. This is made painfully obvious when you turn on the television.

Watch your local evening newscast. Out of the 45 minutes of actual news, perhaps 3 - 5 minutes are dedicated to world events. We are being sheltered from all the bad things that happen elsewhere. Collectively, we are like small children who put their fingers in their ears when it's time to go to bed. "Lalalalalala! If I don't hear it, then it's not true!" We don't want to see the dead soldiers. We don't want to see innocent civillian hostages being beheaded. We don't want to see suicide bombings. Well, we're told that we don't want to see them, anyway.

Because of this report-only-the-good-things mentality that the press has adopted, and the listen-to-only-the-good-things mentality we have adopted, we tend to miss it when other countries voice their opinions about America. Here's some examples of how the general population of the planet Earth views the US of A. I didn't cover all the continents, but here's a smattering for you.

Canada:

According to a Harris Interactive Poll, most Canadians, like most Europeans, are clearly able to differentiate in their attitudes between different aspects of the United States, its government and its policies. Substantial majorities of Canadians hold negative views of President Bush (by 67% to 17%), of U.S. policy in Iraq (by 65% to 21%), and of American foreign policy since 2000 (by 60% to 15%). (1)

Unsurprisingly, American perceptions of this country are generally much more positive than the perceptions of Europeans and Canadians. Majorities have positive opinions not only of the American people but also (by 54% to 22%) of American values, American food (by 76% to 9%), the quality of life in America (by 72% to 15%), and of the American system of government (by 59% to 23%). (2)

"In 1981, only 8 percent of Canadians had an unfavorable view of the United States. Now, 45 percent have an unfavorable view," said Michael Adams, a veteran pollster and philosophical proponent of the view that the two societies are diverging. "There has never been that kind of lopsided skew." (3)


Europe:

At least seven in 10 [people] in France, Germany and Spain said they have an unfavorable view of the U.S. president. Just over half of the French and Germans said they have an unfavorable view of Americans in general, and about half of Spaniards felt that way. (4)

[Germany], America's staunchest ally on the continent during the Cold War, has strongly opposed the drive toward war [in Iraq]. In June of last year, 61 percent of Germans had a favorable opinion of the U.S. That number plunged this year to 25 percent.

In France, where respondents last year held a 63 percent mostly favorable view of the United States, the number has fallen to 31 percent. Similarly, in Italy, the favorable opinions fell to 34 percent from 70 percent.

Only those in two nations - Poland and Britain - held views toward America that were more favorable than not. But that support has sharply diminished over the past year. Poles, who have long embraced the United States because of family ties and as protection against stronger neighbors, held a view that was 79 percent favorable of the United States last year. The new poll places that positive view at only 50 percent.

Last year, 75 percent of Britons had a generally positive view of the United States. This year, that number fell to 48 percent, while negative views more than doubled.

The United States did not fare any better with other partners in the anti-Iraq coalition. The Spanish, for example, held a 74 percent unfavorable opinion of the United States, and 79 percent of them opposed Bush's policies, even as that country's prime minister, Jose Maria Aznar, hews tightly to Washington's strategy. (5)


Mexico

A majority of people in Canada, Mexico and five European countries have an unfavorable view of the role that President Bush plays in world affairs, Associated Press polls found. The AP polls were conducted by Ipsos, an international polling firm.

Only in the United States did a majority of those questioned, 57 percent, have a positive view of President Bush's role.

Just over half in Mexico and Italy had a negative view of Mr. Bush's role. In Britain, the closest U.S. ally in the war in Iraq, and in Canada, two-thirds had a negative view. (6)



Middle-East:

In Zogby's 2002 survey, 76 percent of Egyptians had a negative attitude toward the United States, compared with 98 percent this year. In Morocco, 61 percent viewed the country unfavorably in 2002, but in two years, that number has jumped to 88 percent. In Saudi Arabia, such responses rose from 87 percent in 2002 to 94 percent in June. Attitudes were virtually unchanged in Lebanon but improved slightly in the UAE, from 87 percent who said in 2002 that they disliked the United States to 73 percent this year.

Those polled said their opinions were shaped by U.S. policies, rather than by values or culture. When asked: "What is the first thought when you hear 'America'?" respondents overwhelmingly said: "Unfair foreign policy." (7)


Arab Attitudes Toward the US: June 2004/April 2002

Country - Favorable/Unfavorable

Morocco: 11/88 (2004) vs. 38/61 (2002)
Saudi Arabia: 4/94 (2004) vs. 12/87 (2002)
Jordan: 15/78 (2004) vs. 34/61 (2002)
Lebanon: 20/69 (2004) vs. 26/70 (2002)
UAE: 14/73 (2004) vs. 11/87 (2002)
Egypt: 2/98 (2004) vs. 15/76 (2002)

In five of the six countries we measured in both 2002 and 2004 (Morocco, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Jordan, Lebanon, and Egypt) there was a decline in the US’s favorable ratings. This decline was most significant in Morocco, Jordan, and Egypt. Only in the UAE was there a slight increase in the positive rating. (8)


Poll Chart (9)





As you can see, we rank pretty high on more than a few shit lists. Now, I know that you've probably seen these floating around over the past few weeks, but I reposted a few of the transcripts (10) to further exemplify my point. I've edited them down quite a bit, but you can see original, unedited transcript with the link I included (I didn't do a Michael Moore edit, I promise.) Or, you can watch the quicktime movie (11).


From the November 30 edition of FOX News' Hannity & Colmes:

COULTER: Conservatives, as a general matter, take the position that you should not punish your friends and reward your enemies. And Canada has become trouble recently.

It's -- I suppose it's always, I might add, the worst Americans who end up going there
. The Tories after the Revolutionary War, the Vietnam draft dodgers after Vietnam. And now after this election, you have the blue-state people moving up there.
[...]
COULTER: There is also something called, when you're allowed to exist on the same continent of the United States of America, protecting you with a nuclear shield around you, you're polite and you support us when we've been attacked on our own soil. They [Canada] violated that protocol.
[...]
COULTER: They better hope the United States doesn't roll over one night and crush them. They are lucky we allow them to exist on the same continent.
[...]
ELLIS HENICAN [Newsday columnist]: We share a lot of culture and a lot of interests. Why do we want to have to ridicule them and be deeply offended if they disagree with us?

COULTER: Because they speak French.

COLMES: There's something else I want to point out about the French. Is it's fashionable again on your side to denounce the French.

COULTER: We like the English-speaking Canadians.


From the November 30 edition of CNN's Wolf Blitzer Reports:

CARLSON: Without the U.S., Canada is essentially Honduras, but colder and much less interesting.
[...]
CARLSON: We exploit your [addressing Canadian Member of Parliament Carolyn Parrish] natural resources, that's true. But in the end, Canadians with ambition move to the United States. That has been sort of the trend for decades. It says something not very good about Canada. And I think it makes Canadians feel bad about themselves and I understand that.
[...]
CARLSON: Canada needs the United States. The United States does not need Canada.


From the November 30 edition of CNN's Crossfire:

CARLSON: Canada's essentially -- essentially a made-in-Taiwan version of the United States.
[...]
CARLSON: Doesn't that tell you something about the sort of limpid, flaccid nature of Canadian society, that people with ambition come here? What does that tell you about Canada?


Now, as I said before, I won't base my opinions of a political group because of a few lone nutjobs. Unfortunately, people like these have powerful voices, and everyone around the world has CNN. If all you hear are cocky, self-important individuals voicing negative comments about anyone/where/thing that isn't America, then logic dictates that that is the mindset of the typical American.

Not all Muslims are terrorists. But we see stories about Islamic funtamentalists in Iraq, Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, Chechnya, Indonesia, Sudan and even Holland. They're everywhere! How can we tell the normal Muslims from the radical Muslims? Maybe it's just easier to be distrustful of anyone who wears a turban or a ghutra.

See? It's that easy. Apathy is commonplace. We'd rather complain about our problems than solve them. We'd rather stick to our ways and bicker, than open our minds and find a common ground on which to form a foundation for a stronger society. Other countries see this, they see our arrogance and smugness, the way that we flaunt our authority. It's not just that we're uneducated about foreign countries. It's because we're uneducated, and we have no desire to learn. That, ladies and gentlemen, is why we are our own greatest threat. We've been THE superpower for about 50 years now. With that title comes all the heat. If we don't start protecting our best interests outside of our borders, instead of focusing inward, and if we don't stop carelessly and flippantly burning our bridges, we are going to find ourselves very alone. And who will protect you when you're the enemy? All empires topple. It's inevitible that someday, ours will too.




Sources
Harris International Polling (1)
Axcess News Network (2)
The Concord Monitor (3)
MSNBC (4)
International Herald Tribune (5)
CBS Newsl (6)
The Washington Post (7)
Zogby Internation Polling & The Arab American Institute (8)
Zogby International Polling (9)
CNN Transcripts (10)
CNN / FOX News Video (11)


Monday, December 20, 2004

 

Week One

So Bloggers and Bloggetts it begins here,

We can either A) get off to a hell of a start by showing how diverse and intelligent a group we are, or B) we can crash and burn or later attempt to rise from the flames. I picked an issue that gives us a lot to work with in our first week, and will hopefully fill my poor little brain with ideas for future issues. For now, this weeks Spectrum Perspective is:

What is the biggest threat to America today?

Sunday, December 19, 2004

 

Linkage [Updated]

If anyone would like to promote this site on their personal blog, or on Blog Explosion, feel free to use these banners that I have made.

You've heard the expression about monkeys and typewriters, right?




The background is the White House, and a small American Flag


There's a flag over the eye of the eagle on this one.


I just put up the thumbnail for the sake of saving space. Click on it to see the full-sized version. If you want the large original of this, just email me and I will send you a copy.



As per your request, and my boredom, here's a soaring eagle. The picture is more distinct when it's full-sized.




If anyone has ideas for different banners, let me know. I'll cook something up.

Cheers!

 

I see your chipmunk, and your squirrel....

And present to you the Cat-a-rat.











the newest invention in feline fast food.

 

This is how we do it!

The rules

A) One topic per week. Unless something (I decide) is really interesting happens.
B) One post on topic per week. Keep the rebuttals and general debate on target, and short while its on BlogSpectrum. On your own blogs I have no say.
C) Be Civil. To each other, idjit respondents are of course different.
D) Have hard facts to back yourself up. Blithering idjits will be removed.
E) Be specific, if you’re painting the world and using air craft carrier wide rollers I will personally mock your silly ass, repeatedly.
F) Be Civil. To each other, idjit respondents are of course different.
G) When posting put the week number in the title, or first paragraph of your post. For ex “WK 1 Why TheCO is the best blogger alive”
H) I’m the sole (official) judge of who comes to play, but people may be voted off once here.

Strong suggestions:
A) Please link to all the other team members, preferably under a separate header.
B) Please mention BlogSpectrum once or twice a month on your blog.
C) Remind people that I am God.
D) The Web Dominatrixes are Sidial and Politikat, worship them.
E) Notice the fact that I’ve gone with an alphabetic rules system and that if they have to grow too far the fun ends.