Thursday, May 03, 2007

BS-O-Plenty




Things are not always what they seem in many things, and I find art with a twist especially interesting, like the chalk drawing above.

One can only imagine what really went on in the Justice Dept. when Gonzo the Great hired two rookies to handle the hiring and firing of USA's when they were not even qualified to shine the USA's shoes.

So far no one in the entire Justice Dept. has copped to the firing of those USA's, not even the boss. This system is there to implement the law nationwide and we find out they have had their own agenda and a political one at that.

The other thing is the House vote yesterday contained 203 Nay votes from the "Loyal Bushies".

How can anyone with a conscience vote for more war? How hard do you have to be dropped on your head to vote to support the chimp-in-chief? What kind of Americans are these? Maybe all is not as it seems but I am hoping for an end to the madness soon.

43 comments:

micki said...

Den, you ask "what kind of Americans are these" -- I happened to run into this article (sorry for the length, it's behind the NYT wall -- maybe I shouldn't be posting it) this morning. I am astounded with this guy's "take." I thought of your question, in light of this article.


May 2, 2007, 6:13 pm
Turning Human Beings Into Monsters
By Mark Buchanan

It is four years and a few days since CBS News published the first photos documenting the systematic abuse, torture and humiliation of Iraqi prisoners at Abu Ghraib prison. The Bush administration and the American military have worked hard to firmly establish the “few bad apples” explanation of what happened. Eight low-ranking soldiers were convicted, and Staff Sargent Ivan Frederick II, who was found guilty of assault, conspiracy, dereliction of duty and maltreatment of detainees, is now halfway through his eight-year prison sentence.

But there are very good reasons to think that Frederick and the others, however despicable their actions, only did what many of us would have done if placed in the same situation, which puts their guilt in a questionable light. Can someone be guilty just for acting like most ordinary human beings?

In a famous experiment back in the 1970s, Philip Zimbardo and other psychologists at Stanford University put college students into a prison-like setting in the basement of the psychology department. Some of the students played prisoners and others guards, with uniforms, numbers, reflecting sunglasses and so on. The psychologists’ aim was to strip away the students’ individuality and see what the situation might produce on its own.

What happened was truly disconcerting — the guards grew increasingly abusive, and within 36 hours the first prisoner had an emotional breakdown, crying and screaming. The researchers had to stop the experiment after six days. Even normal kids who were professed pacifists were acting sadistically, taking pleasure in inflicting cruel punishments on people they knew to be completely blameless.

These were ordinary American college kids. They weren’t monsters, but began acting monstrously because of the situation they were in. What happened was more about social pattern, and its influence, than about the character of individuals.

Emeritus professor at Stanford, Zimbardo has argued in a recent book, “The Lucifer Effect,” that what happened in these experiments is also what happened at Abu Ghraib. As he points out, in lots of the photos the soldiers weren’t wearing their uniforms; they were anonymous guards who referred to the prisoners with dehumanizing labels such as “detainees” or “terrorists.” There was confusion about responsibility and little supervision of the prison at night.

The more the soldiers mistreated the prisoners, the more they saw them as less than human and even more worthy of that abuse. In both the experiments and at Abu Ghraib, most of the abuse took place on the night shift. In both cases, guards stripped prisoners naked to humiliate them and put bags over their heads. In both cases, the abuse involved the forced simulation of sexual behavior among the prisoners.

Frederick hooked up wires to hooded detainees, made them stand on boxes and told them they’d be electrocuted if they fell off. He stomped on prisoners hands and feet. He and others lined up prisoners against the wall, bags on their heads, and forced them to masturbate. His actions were indeed monstrous.

But when Zimbardo, as an expert witness, interviewed Frederick during his court-martial, these were his impressions:

He seemed very much to be a normal young American. His psych assessments revealed no sign of any pathology, no sadistic tendencies, and all his psych assessment scores are in the normal range, as is his intelligence. He had been a prison guard at a small minimal security prison where he performed for many years without incident. … there is nothing in his background, temperament, or disposition that could have been a facilitating factor for the abuses he committed at the Abu Ghraib Prison.

If someone chooses to commit an illegal act, freely, of their own will, then they are plainly guilty. Conversely, the same act performed by someone acting without free will, compromised by mental illness, perhaps, or the coercion of others, draws no blame. Far less clear is the proper moral attitude toward people who do illegal things in situations where the social context exerts powerful, though perhaps not completely irresistible, forces.

Can a person be guilty of a crime if almost everyone, except for a few heroic types, would have done the same thing? This is a question for legal theorists, and one likely to arise ever more frequently as modern psychology reveals just how much of our activity is determined not consciously, through free choice, but by forces in the social environment.

But the more immediate question is why those who set up the conditions that led to Abu Ghraib, or at least made it likely, haven’t also been held responsible. When Frederick arrived at Abu Ghraib, abusive practices, authorized from above, were already commonplace. Prisoners were being stripped, kept hooded and deprived of sleep, put in painful positions and threatened with dogs. On his first day there, Frederick recalled, he saw detainees “naked, handcuffed to their door, some wearing female underclothes.”

The conditions cited by Zimbardo, the situational recipe for moral disaster, were already in place.

The conclusion isn’t that Frederick and the others didn’t do anything wrong, or that they somehow had an excuse for their actions. They could and should have acted better, and Frederick has admitted his own guilt. “I was wrong about what I did,” he told the military judge, “and I shouldn’t have done it. I knew it was wrong at the time because I knew it was a form of abuse.”

But you and I cannot look at Frederick and the other guards as moral monsters, because none of us can know that we’d have acted differently. The evidence suggests that most of us wouldn’t have. The coercion of the social context was too powerful.

The second conclusion is that those really responsible for the abuse, on a deeper and more systematic level, still should be brought to justice. They’re in the upper tiers of the military chain of command and its civilian leadership; they’re in the White House.

Today, Frederick will wake up in prison, have his breakfast, take some exercise and face the daily monotony of prison life, something he can expect for the next 1300 days or so. He can be justifiably angry that those responsible for putting him in that setting at Abu Ghraib, where almost anyone would have done the same thing, are today walking around free.

micki said...

These were ordinary American college kids. They weren’t monsters, but began acting monstrously because of the situation they were in.

Are we to believe that young, wealthy, white individuals are a representative sample of Americans?

So, does that explain abusive fraternity hazings -- and worse?

micki said...


By the end of the century, the climate will no longer be favorable for the official state tree or flower in 28 states, according to “The Gardener’s Guide to Global Warming”


When Washington State is heated out of the rhododendron zone, we're in BIG trouble.

P.S. The rhody is our state flower.

micki said...

The Deep Roots the current GOP in the Noxonian Era -- Karl Rove's Influence

Karl Rove's Deep Roots in the Nixon WH -- a 1972 video, with a young Rove learning his "craft"

Another reason we're in deep doo-doo!

Remember we have a POTUS who blew up frogs and branded fraternity brothers with lighted cigarettes for fun and entertainment.

micki said...

Well...that'll get the ball rolling on the blog.

DEN said...

Micki, I had read that article too and wonder how 203 supposed Representatives of the American people can vote against a timetable to leave Iraq?

Do the BIG oil companies OWN these people? Does Rover have stink on them?

WHY? WHY? WHY?

Their political future is imperiled by voting the way they did.

DUH!

DEN said...

OH, my head hurts!

Too much Rover is bad for it.

Where is a good bolt of lightning when you need it.

micki said...

Well, lots of people have to work two jobs! Gotta pay those bills!

A legal secretary at Akin Gump, one of Washington's most prominent law firms, has been suspended after telling her bosses she secretly worked for, and at times helped run, the escort service run by the "D.C. Madam," Jeane Palfrey.

David B. Benson said...

Global Warming activism: If each of use would send 4.3 lb of carbon to the landfill each and every day, atmospheric carbon dioxide would not keep rising.

:LOL:!

micki said...

You've checked the price and calorie count, now here's the carbon cost

Carey said...

Shoot! I had completely forgotten! I saw Ghosts of Abu Graib (HBO) and meant to tell you all about it. Something must have gotten in the way.

Rori Kennedy is an incredible filmaker, first off. The gal has mighty talent and wow, her smarts. She's been properly educated, that's for sure. I mean that she knows how to dig and what's crap and what isn't. And puts it together with discussions on human social psychology. Very, very impressed. It's a must see.

It proves everything we've suspected and knew. A top-notch newsmaking documentary.

The article, Micki is completely similar. There's got to be a relation, I just don't recognize the author's name as connected, but that doesn't mean a thing.

Carey said...

I thought that those experiments referred to were more widely known. Yes, they're seminal to the study of human aggression.

Social psychology is one of the main keys to understanding the why of it all.

Carey said...

Oh, just to point out. Social psychology, Micki, has made huge strides in methadology since its inception. It's very strict on proper representation and sampling now. I actually studied its methadology. Hard to understand, but very impressive in it's rigour which is difficult to achieve in a soft science.

Gerald said...

The argument for arming everyone

Gerald said...

Quote for the Week

I love it!!!

Gerald said...

Sad to say it won't be in my lifetime

º¿carol said...

Carey, I don't know if you watch The View, but they had Rory Kennedy on to tout her film a couple months ago. The twit, Elizabeth, actually started to argue with her. Rosie O'Donnell had to smack Elizabeth down over it.

I think that film has run on satellite but I missed it.

carey said...

Rove's Noxious roots--Lee Atwater. Yeah--that's what I'm talking about! Micki, you knew I'd salivate over that article.

Again they manifest:

(My bold italics.)

Will Justice probe block Gonzales aide's testimony?

Maybe we're growing way too cynical -- watching Alberto Gonzales testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee can do that to you -- but does it strike anyone else that the fact that the Justice Department's decision to investigate Monica Goodling could interfere with the House Judiciary Committee's plan to force her to testify may be something other than a coincidence?

As the Washington Post reports this morning, Justice is looking into allegations that Goodling "illegally took party affiliation into account in hiring career federal prosecutors." As we noted last month, a group of Justice Department employees have charged, in a letter to Judiciary Committee chairman John Conyers, that Gonzales' aides have been "politicizing" the "non-political ranks of Justice employees" by refusing to hire young lawyers whose résumés show involvement with "liberal" judges or causes. The Post says that the Justice Department's inspector general and Office of Professional Responsibility are now investigating Goodling's role based on a referral from Alexandria, Va., U.S. attorney Chuck Rosenberg, who was working as Gonzales' temporary chief of staff after Kyle Sampson resigned earlier this year.

Now, if there's evidence that Goodling was checking the GOP bona fides of candidates for jobs that are supposed to be nonpolitical, she ought to be under investigation for it. But isn't it interesting that, just as Goodling's attorney is saying that she's willing to testify about last year's prosecutor purge in exchange for an offer of immunity from Conyers' committee, the Justice Department reveals the existence of an investigation that could set up an Oliver North problem and prevent her testimony? With Goodling under criminal investigation, Gonzales' people at Justice now have a basis for telling the Judiciary Committee, and the federal judge who would have to approve any immunity deal, that granting immunity to Goodling to testify before Congress would jeopardize any hope of prosecuting Goodling criminally -- just like Congress' grant of immunity to North ended up undoing his criminal conviction in the Iran-Contra affair. It's all so ... convenient.

-- Tim Grieve

•c•arol said...


Third photo down RUN TO THE ROCK. Watch the video

carey said...

Carol,

I knew that you watched The View and I got interested when Rosie started showing the side I've always admired on the show spouting political realisms and activism. Sad to see her go, by the way.

I saw the episode you're talking about and that's what especially turned me on to the documentary--Rory's publicity tour. She's one heck of a woman! Thanks for showing me the right way to spell her name.

David B. Benson said...

Nature's Carbon Sinks Can't Hold Much More

on Tom Paine today...

Carey said...

This is a link from Micki's Common Sense article on Rove's Nixonian roots. It's brief and explains a fratboy outlook on life.

Economic Royalists - and the rest of us

Carey said...

Excuse me, I meant the article from the Economist's View.

David B. Benson said...

Potrero, CA: Blackwater West?

micki said...

...the San Diego Union Tribune reported the proposal by Blackwater USA to build a training center on a 800-acre former chicken and cattle ranch in the rural-town of Potrero in San Diego County has torn apart the tiny community and brought protests by those opposed to the company's government contracts in Iraq.

Carey said...

Micki,

It's a huge story down here. I just haven't found time to write about it. I like to not think about things like that (Potrero and Blackwater), in case they actually become true.

Thank you for the tip on the article in Tom Paine Dr. B.

This is brief and digestable food for thought:

The Crusaders

When George Bush, in the wake of 9/11, puffed himself into Richard the Lionheart and declared he would lead the country in a “crusade” against terrorism - you know, crusade, as in slaughter of Muslim infidels - turns out . . . oh, how awkward (if you’re on White House spin duty) . . . he may have been speaking literally.

What’s certain, in any case, is that a lot of people in high and low places within the Bush administration - and in particular, the military - heard him literally, and regard the war on terror as a religious war:

“The enemy has got a face. He’s called Satan. He lives in Fallujah. And we’re going to destroy him,” a lieutenant colonel, according to a BBC reporter, said to his troops on the eve of the destruction of that undefended city in post-election 2004.

DEN said...

I don't know about anyone here but I have no tolerance for so-called 'religious' people that don't mind killing those unlike them.

That is DAMN sick behavior my friends. People like that should not be allowed to possess weapons of ANY kind.

Those people are a danger to all of humanity, whack-jobs.

David B. Benson said...

Den --- Even if they are not religious.

Still sick.

micki said...

More signs of SICKNESS!

May 3, 2007

By Hope Yen, Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Months after a politically embarrassing $1 billion shortfall that put veterans' health care in peril, Veterans Affairs officials involved in the foul-up got hefty bonuses ranging up to $33,000.

...average bonus is $16,000

++++++

Heckuva job, A**holes!

micki said...

Orwellian is an understatement.

DEN said...

Even Orwell did not imagine this boondoggle.

DEN said...

Doc, your right.

micki said...

We're in this pickle, in part, to shit like this:

Regent Law School was founded in 1986 as the CBN (Christian Broadcast Network) University Law School. The American Bar Association (ABA) denied accreditation in 1987. It gave the school provisional accreditation in 1989. Full accreditation by the ABA didn't occur until 1996.

The fact that 150 grads of the *illustrious* Regent law school are in the bush administration came to light because of Monica Goodling.

On its website admissions' page, Regent states that it seeks to admit "students who are serious about the critical roles they will assume as future counselors, conciliators, defenders of the faith, effective client advocates and followers of Christ....and Regent Law seeks men and women who are dedicated to becoming Christian leaders who will change the world for Christ."

+++++++

Their motto: "Tear down that wall!" (between church and state)

David B. Benson said...

I think Orwell did fine, except for the date he used:

War is Peace

Hate is Love


etc.

DEN said...

"Regent Law seeks men and women who are dedicated to becoming Christian leaders who will change the world for Christ".

For who? Not for Christ, but for YOU!

And your twisted busybody agenda!

David B. Benson said...

But Bush 2 is the second coming!

DEN said...

Yea, and I am Santa Claus, HA!

DEN said...

A second coming and years to leave.

carey said...

Imus' contract is explicitly worded. CBS knew perfectly well of the wording. Something is weird here.

micki said...

Oy, the 2nd coming it is!

Matthew - 24 For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect.

The Jebbies were not into the bible like the bushevik fundies are, so I'm not a biblical scholar, but holy macaroni! Even Matthew foresaweth the cometh of the deceiveishness of the false profiteers.

It's quite a SHEW, ain't it?

micki said...

Carey...explain. I'm too lazy to find what you're talking about.

On the other hand, nevermind. Imus? I wish no one cared, don't you?

Alan said...

I dunno 'bout the wording of his contract, but I did read where he's gonna sue CBS for the remaining $'s of his contract. IIRC, it's $44-million.

Alan said...

Y'all should check out Jesus General's "Dig up Dutch" post. lol "He's just as alert as he was in 1980, and more on the ball than W."