Frank Church's news corner, the sequel.

General discussions of interest to readers and fans of Harlan Ellison.

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Hathor
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Postby Hathor » Fri Mar 24, 2006 3:14 pm

hehehehehee...The sequel: "Hotmao.com" :twisted: :wink:

Nice start. :lol: 8)

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Postby Jan » Fri Mar 24, 2006 5:01 pm

Bush seems to represent the dream of Americans to be part of an important and powerful state, big in ambition.

Americans just don't vote for reason and restraint.

In Germany we always liked Clinton very much, he seemed like a human being willing to let reason prevail. He talked the same language as German leaders, while at the same time, back at home, he could pander to patriotism as much as Bush to get voters behind him.

Eric, that's good to hear, I vote for the environment too, always did. A lot of the things that are usually discussed during elections are nowhere near as important.

Bush and his team do have an environmental policy by now that seems reasonable enough judging from the way it sounds on his website (which I think is among the top government websites in the world in terms of design and content). In Europe (severely threatened by a weakening of the gulf stream) people generally assume he doesn't care at all, but that may be mostly because of his unwillingness to sign the Kyoto accords.

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Postby Duane » Fri Mar 24, 2006 5:30 pm

Bush seems to represent the dream of Americans to be part of an important and powerful state, big in ambition.


That's not a dream, Jan. It's real life.

:shock: AAAAAHHHHHHHH!!!! :shock:

Americans just don't vote for reason and restraint.


That's an irresponsible and uninformed statement to make, and it shows an ignorance of how our democracy works, as well as ignorance of world history in the 20th century.

The rest of your points seem well reasoned and intentioned, but those first two? Hooo BOY!!! Someone open a window.

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Postby Jan » Fri Mar 24, 2006 5:50 pm

That's not a dream, Jan. It's real life.

I'm talking about politics, Duane. Bush makes you feel America's power on a regular basis. Theoretically, America *could* use its power less and *not* have leaders saying that Americans are the cream of the crop, God bless America etc.

It gives America an importance and self-esteem greater than just factual economical power, size, or population numbers.

What I'm saying is that Americans like that - although they have difficulty accepting the real-world consequences -, thus they vote for different kinds of leaders than a European country would.

That's an irresponsible and uninformed statement to make, and it shows an ignorance of how our democracy works, as well as ignorance of world history in the 20th century.

Enlighten me.

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Postby Duane » Sat Mar 25, 2006 2:11 pm

Let's make this easier for both of us.

Do me a favor and perform two quick tasks:

1> Instead of a generic negative statement like "Americans just don't vote for reason and restraint," which can't be proven one way or the other anyway, put together a specific, debatable statement with a concrete example illustrating the larger point you want to make. Fall back on your rhetorics or debate classes in secondary school or university. This will prevent the useless exercise of me responding to a "stab in the dark" guess of what you are trying to prove, and which will most likely be incorrect.

2> Post the statement on a separate thread. This is Frank's news corner, where he posts news stories that are near and dear to his heart, not a place for endless, circular arguments that will no doubt devolve into a pot calling a kettle black.

I'll find your thread, read the contents therein, and debate your point until my fingers fall off.

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Postby Jan » Sat Mar 25, 2006 3:17 pm

Oh come on Duane. I did make a specific, debatable statement (although I consider it solely an utterance, since I did not mean to offend anyone or cause "ciruclar arguments") and given the discussion in this thread, I'm not sure I need to name specific presidents that have been voted into office based not on their intelligence, reason, restraint, what-have-you but based on their ability - among other things - to confirm long-held American values, to appeal to the nation's ego and larger-than-life-ness.

In fact, I hardly need to do anything, if I will "most likely be incorrect" and our arguments will "no doubt devolve into a pot calling a kettle black". :-) If I know that in advance, what would be the point? What was I "trying to prove" by making an outrageous and historically uninformed statement such as the above? Nothing, the statement was an end in itself. An attempt to explain why Bush won two elections has to start with the voting public. I'm sure there are many individual reasons why Americans have the presidents they have, but there are always the real reasons and rationalizations.

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Postby Eric Martin » Sat Mar 25, 2006 6:22 pm

It might be interesting to compare American voters to German ones. I mean, is the German public a model of improved voting behavior? I'm not sure that anyone post-Adenauer is really that inspiring, Jan. Does the German government even function, other than to micromanage a socialist bureaucracy that is slowly, but very surely, wrecking their economy?

I know, those five paid weeks of vacation and teams of surgeons to lance boils are addictive. But they be getting expensive, hmm?

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Postby Jan » Sat Mar 25, 2006 10:05 pm

Thank you Eric for making my point clearer. The fact that you don't find German leaders inspiring is what I'm talking about; the American public looks for qualities that are secondary in Germany and Western Europe.

The word inspire is not part of the political vocabulary here. We have the word "Realpolitik" which boils down to dealing with the problems at hand.

As for the economy, this is not only a matter of paid vacations (which gives us time to do round trips in the US, so don't complain). Don't forget that Germany has had to shoulder bringing eastern Germany up to speed in every sense after the reunification, which cost about 1.5 trillion Euros (and rising) plus unemployment benefits. I'm talking major expenses for a medium sized country. Germany has also been the biggest contributor by far to the European Union, which has to spend a large share of its budget on countries and regions that lag behind. There's simply not a lot of money to go around, as long as we don't want to become irresponsible towards the underpriviledged (social market economy).

As for economic policy, things have been moving in the right direction for a number of years now, though no one here is anywhere near satisfied; it always takes Germany too long to become aware of its problems; we have to solve problems now that wouldn't be as bad if we had taken them seriously ten, twenty years ago. There is also little money for increased public spending, which, as you know, is a big part of Bush's answer to economical problems.

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Postby Eric Martin » Sun Mar 26, 2006 9:44 am

All true Jan, but Germany's unemployment rate has been in the double digits forever, well before East Germany was even a glimmer in Helmut Kohl's eye. In my view, unemployment is a pretty basic indicator of how well a government is doing.

Realpolitik may deal with actual problems, but it's debatable that it works as a strategy for governance. Germany's problems, aside from the economy, include the environment, your Gastarbeiter, and a dwindling teutonic population...the birth rate for German babies has dropped to the point of making international news.

American government is finally founded on ideals, not problem-solving, and we look for those ideals in the leaders we elect. I'm not saying we are always successful, but Americans do want someone with vision to lead the country, not a project manager.

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Postby Jan » Sun Mar 26, 2006 3:29 pm

American government is finally founded on ideals, not problem-solving, and we look for those ideals in the leaders we elect. I'm not saying we are always successful, but Americans do want someone with vision to lead the country, not a project manager.

You're paraphrasing what I said.

Don't agree that unemployment (which was not in double digits before the reunification) is a good indicator of how well a government is doing. That's silly and very selective because the US happens to have a lower rate.There are a number of factors that contribute to unemployment or lack of same, some of which I specifically mentioned. If you will remember, Hitler fought unemployment quite effectively, and you're not big on him, are you? BTW, raw German unemployment rates cannot be directly compared to US figures, I think about 25-35% more people are included by definition.

Unemployment and low birth rates are a European problem, and there aren't any simple solutions. I don't see Germany's economic or environmental problems as singularly German, either.

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Postby FrankChurch » Sun Mar 26, 2006 10:06 pm

Let me pipe up here, since this is my news corner, taken in by angry bees.

Germany is obviously more bohemian then this country could ever be, mainly because of our fundamentalist stripe, some elements of which rival Iran in the kook column. But what America does have is possibly the freest society on earth, not by the loving gift of the state, but by years of individual struggle, by many people, in different movements of history. Without continued struggle that freedom could die and we could become a fascist state. Germany knows this well.

We are the only country where internal documents of the state can be made to be de-classified and given to any citizen the right to peruse said documents. Germany isn't anywhere near that kind of freedom, which in many ways is more important than the freedom to drink beer in the streets.

I am not capping on Germany, but America is a beacon of democracy; once again, not by the loving hands of the state, but by struggle. We just have a longer history of struggle, and have been very lucky, insuring that freedom stays current.

This is why people in power and in the corporate boardrooms fear our power so much, and why do they everything in their power to shape how we view the world, because without that internal propaganda, we have the power to do almost anything, because of our access to freedom. We don't have secret police dragging us into the night, so we have more sway in how our country is run. We should be ashamed that former dictatorships like Brazil now have a more democratic, hopeful outlook. And that was all because of mass struggle. In America, we are too uninformed and lazy to struggle like they do in the third world, and the powers in the ivory towers know how to push our buttons and control our moods and morays.

We have an intellectual culture and media culture that tells people that struggle is a dusty history lesson that is now over and finished--we have won, now we can be good little consumers and shop, shop, shop--max out our credit cards and swim in the seas of debt. Television, video games and the internet are used to keep us controlled and in line. Children are told that to be cool it is better that they have a Blackberry instead of a book. Reading is what fags do, or dirty communist liberal sissies. Real men watch the game on sunday and throw beer cans at their wives. Get me another beer, you bitch!

After the 60's, the powers were scared witless. That power the anti-war movement showed made it possible to change the way that we did things in this country and the powers did not want that to happen. You should want to make money and babies and live behind your white picket fence, not waving the North Vietnam flag like some pinko sissy. Do you have any pride at all? The powers used the police to quell the protests and people we didn't know, sitting around tables, scheming, came up with our bogus elections. Make them more about personalities, and less and about substance. Is the President just like us, or is he like an elite snob, you know, the ones we are supposed to hate. I know, let's show the sissy windsurfing, that will tell Americans that he isn't one of them, so how could he ever understand your needs--not like our sainted, simple talking, real man. This is what they did, they pick from a series of elites, mostly from ivy league schools, and the one with the best life story is the one that is put into power, with money and loads of pr leading the bonfire. Their vanity is our shame.

Edward Bernays knew this, being the leader of American pr, now known as propaganda. Barnays knew that shaping men's minds was the only way to get them to go along. Sure, their personal traits and needs differ from us, but we will make them believe that their needs are not what matter, we will make them diverge from the real issues and will little their minds with tales of gays coming to invade their children's schools, and atheists about to take over the Churches, turning them into strip clubs or god forbid, book stores. The liberals are coming for your guns, they say, so Kerry has to hunt geese, looking like a brown nosing maroon. We will tell the red staters that Kerry tongue kissed Viet Cong at the prom and that he will make your soldiers wear pink triangles. This shit works, just as it worked in Nazi Germany, even though Germany was the most sophisticated society, at the time.

There is a media elite that tell us how and what is important. No, global warming and world wide AIDS is not the thing, better that you know more about the missing college girl, or who is dating George Clooney this week. The political is merely a horse race of freshly refined elites, taught how to act and talk at the leading prep schools and social centers of political thought. This is why they talk in sound bites, because they know that media and the fast image rules the day. Make the people stupid and they vote against their interests. It is also good that people be kept in the dark about even their own beliefs. This is why valid public opinion research is rarely discussed. The reason it is not discussed is because the public care about things that the media and the intellectual and corporate culture could never allow. You give the voter a stake in his own government and he or she will no longer need the responsible men to look after them, and tuck them in at night, dancing commercials for beer and tampons in their heads.

The people are to the left of even the democratic party on most major issues, but the media will never report this, mainly, because they are to the right of most sane Americans. You look at buisiness reporting and you get a good whiff of that. Hardly any mention about unions or what's called the Real economy. The DOW is more important than personal debt, or wage stagnation or tax unfairness. Better to tell them how good the economy is doing, even though the real numbers are fudged, thru trickery of several kinds.

Sure, they say our unemployment rate is at 4.8 percent, but they only count the raw numbers, and they count it in unseemly ways. They should be counting how many are EMPLOYED, not unemployed, and compare the employed numbers to the ammount of people who should be in the work force. That should give a better and more complete number. Our actual unemployment rate is over 7 percent! Then let's take into account people who stop looking for work and also admit the fact that when someone's unemployment benefit runs out, they are no longer counted. David Copperfield can't beat that.

Germany has more unemployment, but more security, with stronger unions and government set asides. The main reason Germany has done poorly is because of the unfair trade policies, like GATT, and that German companies are leaving Germany, to buy up America, and have our workforce on the cheap. I see this now, where violence and a rise in racism is inflicted on parts of Europe, who blame immigrants for why they no longer have jobs. Jan is part right, it is more complex, but he is wrong, in that we here in American have more freedom. Not saying we are better, just stating the facts.

We have a controlled media, a controlled intellectual culture and an uninformed mass of people, who get most of their news from either their local paper or their local television news--or worse, Fox. Politicians are picked, based on personal issues, not on real issues. The public is told that they have to vote for the man they most want to share a beer with. But, in the real world, it doesn't matter how likable a politician is, just how they will act, when they get into office. I will take a mean, bitter representative of the people over a niceguy pr scam any day. But Americans are trained to think with their hearts, not their heads. Some of us have to fight to change that.

I have to feed my face, try to be nice, ok, kids.

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Postby FrankChurch » Sun Mar 26, 2006 10:07 pm

Sorry about War And Peace. hehe.

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Postby Rudiger Treehorn » Mon Mar 27, 2006 6:51 am

Sorry for missing the Teutonic sarcasm on the other thread, Jan.

Are there any decent books that lay out post wwII German government to the present? I find myself lacking in basic knowledge in this area, though I do remember where Germany's located...

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Postby Eric Martin » Mon Mar 27, 2006 7:04 am

I think you're wrong on the unemployment rates, Jan...I know it was close to 11 when I lived there in 1982-83, and I don't ever remember it being reported under 10.

http://www.geographie.uni-marburg.de/vg ... tab1_2.htm

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Postby Moderator » Mon Mar 27, 2006 10:35 am

But what America does have is possibly the freest society on earth, not by the loving gift of the state, but by years of individual struggle, by many people, in different movements of history.


Well put, Frank. I may steal this quote if the occasion presents itself...


Without continued struggle that freedom could die and we could become a fascist state. Germany knows this well.


I have several friends who believe that we could not possibly follow this scenario. Unfortunately, as history and sociological experimentation have proved, we're only as close as the opportunity is. With the Democratic Party seemingly incapable of producing a galvanizing figure, the American public is becoming restive without a way to express it. Anger at foreigners is at a high, fear has replaced optimism, and religious zealots are capitalizing on those emotions in ways the opposition party could emulate.

I am not what most people would call a "reactionary", but for a couple of years I have maintained that the actions of this government were unethical and illegal -- and I've been castigated as unpatriotic because I openly advocate California (or West Coast) secession if things continue to worsen.

And the evidence continues to mount (from the New York Times):

During a private two-hour meeting in the Oval Office on Jan. 31, 2003, [President Bush] made clear to Prime Minister Tony Blair of Britain that he was determined to invade Iraq without the second resolution, or even if international arms inspectors failed to find unconventional weapons, said a confidential memo about the meeting written by Mr. Blair's top foreign policy adviser and reviewed by The New York Times.




I don't care whether you're Republican or Democrat. This sort of action by our administration is just UnAmerican -- it's in complete contradiction to everything we've ever stood for. And yet, and yet, 34% of Americans continue to support the man. One out of three.

As long as we are a society of convenience and are mollified by platitudes, we're going to risk everything. Information is the key, unfortunately we're creating a culture where a lot of people want others to do the thinking for them (after all, it's time for American Idol...) -- and the organizations who are supposed to be the "Fourth Estate" are doing a trivial job of fulfilling their responsibilities.

I don't blame "corporations" (that's too easy), and I don't agree that we get the government we deserve -- we get the government we fight for. The difference between the 1960s and now is the passification of Americans. And as scary as the conspiracy theorists are, they're becoming more right every day.


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