MUSIC WILL BE -Intro/Hendrix, Star Spangled Banner
S9/ Eat Static, Crash and Burn
Exeunt/WildChild, Renegade Master
J. Good morning, and welcome to The Mojowire... I’m Mojo...
S. And I’m Sean, it’s Saturday, August 16th, and here’s the news for the week gone-by...
J. Brought to you by Mojohaus-fine journalism, afflicting the comfortable since 1988. Now headlines, from Mojohaus:
S. First this morning, remember Afghanistan? This is a song about Afghanistan. Or at least it was until the U.S. decided it had cooler places to be, leaving the country to spiral back into a hellish vortex of chaos and anarchy despite the pleas of the new government for more help.
J. Next, we take a look at the next cheap hustler to take the helm at the Environmental Protection Agency: none other than Utah Gov. Mike Leavitt. For those who will be remembered of it, his name last graced our broadcast when it came to light that he was trying to auction off vast areas of his state to mining corporations with the help of the U.S. Interior Department.
S. Then we take a terrifying trip into the psyche of the average conservative, a brain polluted with a pathological aversion to nuance and a minimalist approach that breaks down all politics into bumper-sticker, bite-sized phrases with a simple beat that anyone can dance to. The best part is that this information comes courtesy of a federal study just completed and released.
J. And with a truly horrifying story this morning, the good Doctor Strychnine pulls the pin out of a big one this week and explains how the traditional American notions of voting will become yet one more “reality” TV show with results negotiated weeks in advance with the help of GOP controlled companies who now are responsible for all our new electronic voting machines.
S. Then FoxNews gets completely sideways and launches ill-advised legal action against one of their most ardent critics, Al Franken. Was it because Franken called them all morally bankrupt political hacks and degenerates who wouldn’t know the truth if it appeared to them in a burning bush? No it was -- wait for it -- Copyright infringement, wait till you hear this...
J. And then with this week’s presidential roundup, why we believe the organizational omens look good for Dean, we look at the Democrats on their forced march through Oklahoma last week, and wax philosophical on the reelection chances of George W.
... So stand by to stand by while we get ready to kick this pig...
J. Between the Rise of the Machine candidate in California, and the Administration’s efforts at hypnosis to make us forget their failure to find Weapons of Mass Distraction, it is no surprise that Afghanistan and our ongoing military and rebuilding efforts there have dropped below the radar screen. But recent events have raised the question:, what is really going on in Afghanistan?
First this from the New York Times: “In the most violent day in Afghanistan in nearly a year, 15 people, including six children, were killed when a bomb exploded on their bus in southern Afghanistan, and another 20 people were killed in fighting in the country's east. The bomb exploded in Helmand province aboard a bus en route to the provincial capital, Lashkar Gah, according to news agency reports. It was the deadliest such attack since a bomb exploded in Kabul last September, killing 35 people.”
I understand from the White House that Afghanistan was a great victory. Is it just us, or does victory seem a lot like a crisis in progress?
From the Globe and Mail:
“It is clear that someone is trying to destabilize President Hamid Karzai's regime in Kabul: According to United Nations statistics, several attacks a day are carried out across Afghanistan against the new government's forces, their American allies or foreign-aid organizations working in the country. But it is less clear who is behind them.”
Bottom line: There are arguably many players with an interest in sustaining the impression that Afghanistan is a violent, chaotic place, and that Washington needs all the allies it can get.
Let's try to make sense of the situation in Afghanistan. While the Taliban reconstitutes in the Western part of our ally Pakistan, the country is in the throes of a desperate security crisis from one end to another, while the U.S. and its allies refuse to expand the security force needed to secure the capital. The security problem makes it near impossible to rebuild the country's infrastructure, the chaos is demoralizing the population and making us hugely unpopular.
S. I swear I've seen this movie before!...
Can someone explain to me why the administration is using Beckett's "Waiting for Godot" as their guide to occupation and reconstruction? Sitting around waiting for someone else to actually do something.
It's a gruesome loop of inadequate troop strength, willful indifference to the continuing breakdown of even the chaotic law and order the previous regime maintained, and making it impossible to bring in the International institutions needed to really help the population.
If that is not bad enough, The Taliban and presumably their Al Queda allies are apparently reforming in Pakistan and attacking the government in an effort to overthrow them.
The UN Envoy and President Karzai have repeatedly asked for help from the US and it's supporters to help them bring the country some measure of security beyond Kabul. They got nothing but stony indifference from Washington.
Take a good long look folks. This is the way Iraq will look in a few years, a token US presence, a US installed government sinking under the weight of false promises from the truth challenged white house, and President and Republican party basking in the glow of a success that exists nowhere but in Press releases and screaming invectives from degenerate losers on Fox News.
You have to admit, this administration is determined to leave a legacy behind. A legacy of countries where opportunities to build new futures after US military intervention were squandered to square with the visions of fierce ideologues.
A legacy of lost chances to break the power of Al Queda in Afghanistan was lost to test out crank theories of warfare put forward by people who have never stood a post.
A legacy of dead Americans, Iraqi's and Afghans who believed in the promises of a President so out of touch with truth or reality, that even Afghanistan death spiral will not interfere with his American super hero fantasies, much less ultra-macho photo ops of his dashing figure in a naval flight suit or an Eisenhower jacket shouting Semper Fi to a bunch of Marines...like he even know what that means...
J. Back on April 12, we brought you the news that the State of Utah was apparently up for sale to the highest bidder. Many of the President’s friends were being encouraged submit purchase offers. Now I know many are asking, “what would I want with a bunch of Mormons, cactus and a giant lake that I can’t take a drink from?”
Ahhh, but you are not a massive mining conglomerate are you? Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch and Utah Gov. Mike Leavitt form a sort of Axis of Mining Pimps, and when it comes to peddling the rear of their state they are the mack daddies, as we earlier reported.
But now, the top job at the Environmental Protection Agency has come open and Bush has been looking for someone more politically reliable than Christine Todd Whitman to take the reins. Well, Orrin Hatch already has a job, and besides he can’t move around much in the light of day, owing to the fact that he’s a blood sucking creature of the night.
So naturally, Leavitt was the clear choice for the job.
This choice has left many in the environmental community *and* regular government circles, shaking their heads with rueful grins as yet one more bad punchline gets delivered with a rimshot regarding the Bush Administration’s fiasco of environmental policy.
Most see Leavitt as a guy who started out as a moderate, but has since fallen under the big money sway of the mining industry. Choosing him to head the EPA is a signal that anyone who isn’t currently strip mining, needs to pick up a shovel and get diggin.’
This from the Associated Press: “The Utah governor said he shares Bush's enthusiasm for technological approaches for improving the environment, but recognizes with environmental matters there is often ‘an economic imperative that we're dealing with in the global economy and that's to do it less expensively.’”
Let me translate that for the Bush impaired: “Yeah we like lookin’ at pretty trees ‘n stuff, too, but hey, were talkin’ big money here...cut ‘em all down...”
S. The Sierra Club has quite the dossier on Leavitt. Here are some examples of what Leavitt considers sound environmental policy: As Governor, Mike Leavitt secretly negotiated two controversial deals with the Department of Interior to thrash millions of acres of Utah wilderness with road building and development.
Leavitt also wanted to pave Utah’s world renowned wetlands and fertile farmlands along the Great Salt Lake with the infamous Legacy Highway project.
Environmental enforcement has also been a bad joke on Leavitt’s watch. New criminal pollution cases referred by the EPA for federal prosecution are down more than 40 percent, and civil pollution cases are down 25 percent since the start of the Bush Administration.
So let’s bottom line this for you, wireheads -- dude has a history of cutting back room deals at the expense of environmental protection, but that’s ok, because he is going to head up an agency that, under the Bush Administration, really has no interest in protecting the environment.
From resisting efforts to get arsenic out of our drinking water, to weakening the clean air act and the enforcement of environmental safeguards, the Bush Administration has demonstrated a pattern of siding with corporate polluters over the health and safety of America's families.
And Leavitt will be nothing more than the latest accomplice in these crimes against America and the American people.
J. It is only rarely that a story comes along like this. But it is apparently just in the nick of time, because, as they say, admission that you have a problem is the first step on the road to wellness.
There is a psychological condition that has recently been quantified in a new report. It is earmarked by neuroses expressing in fear and aggression, dogmatism, a nearly pathological aversion to ambiguity and an obsessive need for moral certainty in all situations.
Wow, you are thinking, those guys must be real head cases. Well, you would be right. They are real head cases. They all also currently control our country. The psychological condition in question is conservatism and the report is entitled: “Political Conservatism as Motivated Social Cognition.”
And the OCD conservatives in the West Wing and their pals blotting up the nation’s op/ed pages are all in a lather. Now, I am not a clinical psychologist, but I am pretty sure that this is a normal reaction to confronting your mental illness for the first time.
George Will, a Washington Post columnist who has long suffered as a high-functioning conservative, was very sour at the whole prospect: “The professors have ideas; the rest of us have emanations of our psychological needs and neuroses.”
Now George, this is what those in the profession call denial, and it’s a normal first step. But you have to move beyond that, you have to own your illness before you will ever be able to deal with the issues in your past that made you the conservative closet case you are today.
But the study’s authors went a step further. They went and identified some typical personalities that suffered with this malady. The names they came up with the shared these fundamental neuroses, such notable figures as Smilin’ Joe Stalin, Adolph Hitler, Benito Il Duce Mussolini and of course, Ronald Reagan, as sharing fantasies of an idealized past and condoning inequality.
And then they took their model and applied it to current figures and once the Brainac5000 quantative psychoanalytical computer spit back the numbers, it turns out that our very own Maximum President George Bush is a text book example of the low-functioning conservative.
According to the study, Bush (and as far as we’re concerned, by extension the rest of his varsity starting team in the West Wing) exhibit the telltale signs, such as his preference for moral certainty and frequently expressed dislike of nuance.
"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 authors argue in the Psychological Bulletin.
One of the psychologists behind the study, Dr. Jack Glaser, said the aversion to shades of gray and the need for “closure” could explain the fact that the Bush administration ignored intelligence that contradicted its beliefs about Iraq's weapons of mass destruction.
S. And I know, we promised you a punchline, so here it is. The study was conducted on a $1.2 million contract from the National Science Institute and the National Institutes of Health. And that, more than anything else has Republicans hopping mad as the report apparently acted as a trigger for their neurotic expression.
Besides, we all know, after last week’s wire, how much stock the White House puts in science. As far as they are concerned, if it doesn’t prove them right 100 percent of the time, it is not scientifically valid, because they read once in their special decrypted version of the Old Testament with the whole bible code decoder ring that the White Conservative Christians were always right because they were God’s Chosen People and as we all know the GCP can’t ever be wrong because they dwell in the righteousness of the holy cleansing fire of the wrathful space god Jehovah-1...
Sorry, we got a little carried away there trying to be cool...
The good news is that in apparent recognition of the violent acting out on the part of their patients, they felt it necessary to point out that -- spoil sports that they are -- it is really not a pathology, just a collection of mental ticks, one might say.
So there’s hope that a cure for conservatism might be found. We need to start a national movement or foundation that will help us raise money so we might help these people find a way out of the twisted paths of their darkness and into the light.
Perhaps they need 12-step groups, or other support mechanisms. Because no one should have to suffer with this condition alone, and it helps to know there are others right there in the boat with you.
Ok, so much for the dispassionate sarcasm, but think on this and feel the cold chill up your spine... When Presidents like Reagan, Bush Sr. and Jr. have their fingers on the button, they are struggling with a neurotic impulse to be right all the time no matter what.
We all have neurotics in our families and we do our best to humor them during the holidays and then we tell funny anecdotes about them to our friends. But do you really want Aunt Hildy, you know the one who thinks there are monsters living in her toes after she saw the commercial for Lamisil-D to combat dermatafite infections and so she scrubbed her toenails off with Pine Sol and Brillo pads when her doctor wouldn’t prescribe the sovereign remedy...yeah that Aunt...do you want her to have access to The Bomb?
Because if these learned professors of the skull voodoo are right, then that is exactly what we have right now...sleep tight y’all...
J. That’s right. It is time once again for our regular contributor Dr. Strychnine, reporting from his super-secret, ultra-dope, mega-cool, extra-jiggy, Mojohaus spy satellite of love high in geosynchronous orbit above Baghdad by the Bay…take it away S9…
S9 Greetings once again fellow space travellers. This week, we are beaming out this message from our hidden rebel base on a small planetoid outside the lunar orbit. These precautions are necessary on account of the fact that we're not too sure we want to be within the blast radius when the charge we're about to trigger goes off over your weary shell-shocked heads.
What if they held an election, and everybody who wanted to vote came out and cast a ballot, but the only votes that counted were the ones that made the result come out the way the Party Apparat decided beforehand it would come out? What if the government declared you ineligible to vote, and didn't bother to tell you? What if it even went to the trouble of accepting your ballot and telling you that you voted, but just not didn't tell you that your vote was never counted?
Sound like a paranoid conspiracy theory? Yeah, that's what *we* would say too, except-- well, let's illustrate the issue with a pop culture reference.
There's this great moment in a film from 1988, called 'The Miracle Mile' starring Anthony Edwards, about a guy who answers a wrong number in a payphone in the middle of the night and it's from a soldier in a nuclear missile silo trying to tell his father that a nuclear war has started.
He walks back into the restaurant where he tells the strangers at the counter about what he's heard. One of the people in the restaurant-- played by Denise Crosby-- "just happens to be" some kind of government analyst, and while the rest of the characters are working out whether to believe it, she's talking on a cell phone. When she's finished, she says, "I don't know whether it's true or not, but four out of five of my friends in D.C. are now in transit to the extreme southern hemisphere."
You should be reminded of this scene when the computer professionals in your neighborhood start sounding the alarm about the integrity of the electronic voting systems being deployed to count votes in the next election. Why? Because when they *stop* sounding the alarm-- and you find out they've all invested in overseas real estate-- it will be too late.
A report released a couple weeks ago by the Information Security Institute at Johns Hopkins University is probably the most frightening document we've seen since DARPA announced they were planning to make a commodity out of terrorism and trade it on the open market. It describes how they cracked the website of Diebold Election Systems-- the company that makes the new optical Accuvote electronic voting machines being rolled out in California and across the country-- how they *stole* the source code for the voting systems, and how they disassembled it looking for security flaws.
They found plenty. Their report details how brain-numbingly easy it should be to implement widespread and wholesale election tampering with
perfect deniability. It's almost like they were *designed* for that purpose. They and most of the rest of their professional colleagues in the field of computer security are saying-- rather bluntly-- that the potential for disaster here is huge. Capital-H huge.
But since the President signed the Help America Vote Act of 2002, about four billion dollars has been allocated to go to buying new electronic voting systems, which are made by three companies, all of them with directors having close ties to the Republican Party (and without any ties to the Democrats), and they hold all the source code as trade secrets.
Yes, the Johns Hopkins researchers had to *steal* this source code in order to analyze it for security flaws. Otherwise, no one would have known about them at all.
These are the machines that have only recently been deployed in many California districts, and which might be used to fix the upcoming special election for the recall of the governor. Is this starting to ring any bells yet?
If it seems like the very foundations of our democratic principles of government are under concerted attack by a frightening G.O.P. political machine, it's because they are. One only needs to read the first chapter of Greg Palast's book 'The Best Democracy Money Can Buy' to see how a system with such serious security flaws *will* be exploited literally to kill democracy in America.
I could go on for hours on this subject, but I'm out of space. Check out the 'Electoral Integrity' section of www.crisispapers.org for more information.
And in the meantime, if any of our overseas listeners know where a guy like me can land a decent job in an E.U. country slinging Internet security code, send email to the Mojowire telling me where to send the résumé.
SEE PART II