Friday, August 18, 2006

On "Gifted" Children and Adults

It's all so, so true.

Parenting a Highly Gifted Child:

Many people think of profoundly and highly gifted children as having it easy. They do not. They are special needs children as surely as the mentally retarded. They have extreme difficulties fitting in, accepting life. They are lonesome little people. They need constant guidance of a kind few are prepared to give. Endless patience on the part of the parent. It is. Exhausting. [Emphasis added.]

Oh, God, yes.

Understanding People Like Me

For instance, gifted adults are more likely to be morally outraged at issues that don't seem to concern other people very much. We are more likely to be highly emotional, and to express it. We are more likely to think idependently, challenge authority, and question norms that everyone else take for granted. We are more likely to be seen as weird.

So, pretty much a crock, then

Mass murder in the skies: was the plot feasible?

Short answer: no.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

What was the point?

Bombs Aimed at G.I.’s in Iraq Are Increasing

The real nugget is at the end:

Bush administration officials now admit that Iraqi government’s original plan to rein in the violence in Baghdad, announced in June, has failed. The Pentagon has decided to rush more American troops into the capital, and the new military operation to restore security there is expected to begin in earnest next month.

Yet some outside experts who have recently visited the White House said Bush administration officials were beginning to plan for the possibility that Iraq’s democratically elected government might not survive.

“Senior administration officials have acknowledged to me that they are considering alternatives other than democracy,” said one military affairs expert who received an Iraq briefing at the White House last month and agreed to speak only on condition of anonymity.

“Everybody in the administration is being quite circumspect,” the expert said, “but you can sense their own concern that this is drifting away from democracy.”

Given it was never about democracy, this is not actually too surprising.

What was the point? Something about WMDs that weren't there, or revenge for "tryin' to kill my dad", or enforcing UN resolutions?

No, no. *holds up hand* It'll come to me.

Gambled and Failed

The dice have come up SNAKE EYES.

[t]he war in Iraq is wholly irrelevant to the means chosen by the London terrorists, and the means that thwarted them—dogged police work, lawful surveillance, international co√∂peration—are precisely those which have been gratuitously starved or stymied on account of the material, political, and human resources that have been, and continue to be, wasted in Iraq. Why not change the game to one that relies less on gambling and bluff and more on wisdom, planning, and (in every sense) intelligence?

Monday, August 14, 2006

"Revenge of the Irate Moderates"

"Revenge of the Irate Moderates"

That's a misnomer, if you ask me.

The rebellion against Mr. Lieberman was actually an uprising by that rare phenomenon, irate moderates. They are the voters who have been unnerved over the last few years as the country has seemed to be galloping in a deeply unmoderate direction. A war that began at the president’s choosing has degenerated into a desperate, bloody mess that has turned much of the world against the United States. The administration’s contempt for international agreements, Congressional prerogatives and the authority of the courts has undermined the rule of law abroad and at home.

"Attempting to regain the real center becomes a radical alternative."

It's not revenge. It's revolt. It's revulsion. It's repair.

It's entirely sensible, is what it is.

What We Know and Don't Know

Editorial: What we know / A deadly airline plot and failed Bush policies

In the What-We-Know column:

We know that the war in Iraq is not a "war on terror."

We know that the loss of 2,600 good Americans, the injuries of 19,000 others and the wartime expense of $320 billion have been a tragic waste.

We know that because of the cost of Iraq, measures that might truly enhance homeland security, like technology that would spot sinister liquids at airport checkpoints, are hardly affordable.

We know that while the president has cut taxes for the rich, at a time when he says all Americans must do their part, U.S. borders are porous, cargo ships are vulnerable and sophisticated identity scanners remain a fantasy.

Yes, there is much that we don't know. What we do know, based on the foiled plot against U.S.-bound aircraft, is that five years of policies by George W. Bush and the Republicans who control Congress have made the country no more secure and its people no more safe. It is time for a change.

Looking Cool v. Dismantling the System

Turning (toward) Black III, by Professor Zero. (thanks, Granny Gets a Vibrator, for the tip.)

Speaking of Eldridge Cleaver (and so, necessarily, of patriarchy) and of women, I have talked to a few men over the years. Some of these, I would classify as unreconstructed patriarchs, but gentlemen. Others have been unreconstructed patriarchs, but not gentlemen. Still others have been working towards feminism, with varying degrees of success. And then there is a fourth group, which calls itself 'modern'. This ostensibly mild-mannered group accepts, gladly, some of the effects of feminism: birth control, better sex, dates who share checks, wives with good incomes, paternity leave. They would not describe themselves as feminist. In this they are correct, since they in fact resemble the unreconstructed patriarchs, with the difference that they demonstrate the requisite characteristics in a covert, rather than an overt way.

Perhaps we can draw a loose parallel between these 'modern' guys, and white people who wish to be absolved of racism and then move, instantly, to reap the cultural or other benefits of 'integration'. Yes, you can go out to the zydeco, and be effusive, and say some theoretically sophisticated things. But you looking cool, is very different from you being cool, and that again is very different from dismantling the system.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

The Authoritarian Personality

A 2-part series over at Orcinus, courtesy of guest blogger Sara Robinson. She starts off in this post with a discussion of the personality summarized from John Dean's book, Conservatives Without Conscience.

Dean is also emphatic that authoritarianism, in all its forms, is completely antithetical to both classical conservatism (he still considers himself a Goldwater conservative), and to the founding ideals of America. We must be clear: when right-wingers threaten liberals, they are directly threatening the seminal political impulse that created our nation. An operative democracy depends on having a populace that is open to new ideas, able to think for itself, confident in its abilities, willing to take risks, and capable of mutual trust. America was founded as the world's first radically liberal state. History has shown us that the nation's best moments, past and future, are created by people with a strong liberal orientation.

In her second post, Robinson goes deeper, first noting:

Cut loose from our moorings, in over our heads, we all look for something solid to hold onto. No matter how strong we are, we've all got areas where we are brittle and vulnerable. It's hard for any of us to say for sure that we'd walk away from an authoritarian leader who promised us precisely the right kind of salvation in precisely the wrong moment. This is something to bear in mind whenever we deal with authoritarian followers: they have simply responded to an impulse that exists -- at least to some degree -- in all of us.

And then, she discusses what it's like to leave fundamentalism, in terms that remind me most of what it can be like for gays to come out: personal enlightenment at what can be an enormous cost, personal, professional, and social. And yet, we still do it -- for what will it cost a man to keep the world when it means losing his soul?

Many of the ex-fundies I know made their break in the aftermath of sexual abuse, ruinous financial treachery, public humiliation, or power grabs that threatened their marriages or children. They saw, in devastatingly vivid color, what their leaders were capable of. Their endless loyalty was shattered, because they realized it was not being returned in kind.

The Bush Administration is not loyal to us Americans. It's time to change.

"It's not security, it's security theater"

Last Week's Terror Arrests "It's not security, it's security theater: measures designed to make us feel safer but not actually safer."

But only temporarily. Banning box cutters since 9/11, or taking off our shoes since Richard Reid, has not made us any safer. And a long-term prohibition against liquid carry-ons won't make us safer, either. It's not just that there are ways around the rules, it's that focusing on tactics is a losing proposition.

It's easy to defend against what the terrorists planned last time, but it's shortsighted.

As noted in my previous post below, law enforcement did its job catching these guys. They were under extensive surveillance by enforcement professionals who knew what they were doing.

And then, the U.S. pushed to get arrests early, when, let's face it, the pros wanted to wait a little longer to see who else they could draw in. Why is that? So BushCo could hit the Panic Button?

Bottom line: The British have had a hell of a lot more practice dealing with terrorism effectively. LISTEN TO THEM.