Be Worried

A hypothesis has been rattling around in my head for a while, and if any social psychologists (or anybody) reading this know of actual data that might support it, please let me know.

Humans are social animals, and as such we tend to take our social and emotional cues from people around us. This “cue-ing” is so much a part of being human that most of the time we don’t notice it. My hypothesis is that our brains — the non-cognitive parts — often cannot distinguish between “real” people and people in electronic mass media, especially television and radio. Thus, people who spend at least part of every day plugged into television or radio are taking emotional cues from whatever they are watching.

Earlier this week we spent some time discussing the antiwar movement. Many people here and elsewhere express frustration that so much of the American public seems apathetic about the war. Although a solid majority (65 percent, according to the latest Bloomberg poll) of Americans are opposed to the war, the only way you’d know that is by reading polls.

By the same token, I’ve spent part of nearly every day for more than four years documenting the nonsense coming out of Washington. Sometimes I think the only reasonable reaction to the Bush Administration is to dash about with my hair on fire, yet I sit here, blogging. And outside my window the sun is shining and squirrels are frisking about in the bare tree limbs, and I know if I were to turn on the TV there’d be the usual inane talk shows and reruns. This time of day even the news shows are mostly populated by attractive and well-groomed young people who are ever calm and cheerful as they report on the many ways the world is going to hell.

So, even people who have some grasp of current events are not all that worked up about them. The emotional cues they’re getting from television say that nothing extraordinary is going on, beyond Muslim congressmen taking the oath of office on a Q’ran.

In my earlier post I expressed doubt that the antiwar movement of the Vietnam era really had much of a measurable effect in ending the war. I think news media had a much bigger impact on eroding public support for the war. In those days nearly the entire nation tuned into one of the early evening news shows broadcast by one of the three major networks, because that was pretty much all that was on. And every evening people saw real carnage and miserable young soldiers, and the reporters who covered the war spoke in grim and serious tones. The emotional cue was, “This is really bad. Be worried.”

Now, even those people who opt to watch television news instead of whatever else is on the 300 cable channels don’t see that much of Iraq. Instead, they see “pundits” and politicians, comfortably seated, dispassionately discussing this policy or that policy and whether it will impact the 2008 presidential elections. As if what’s going on is all perfectly normal.

The exception to the dispassion is on the Right. You know the unwritten rule — righties can scream until they turn purple and pound tables and hyperventilate and say any outrageous thing that pops into their heads and that’s OK. The second a “leftie” expresses mild disgruntlement he’s out of control. I think this works both for and against the Right. People inclined to buy the swill they’re selling are passionate about it. Whatever critical thinking skills they might have had are overrun by emotions.

On the other hand, displays of really strong emotion — rage, screaming, hysteria — can frighten people away as much as draw them in. This might seem to contradict my emotional cue theory, but I don’t think it does. I think we might have an instinct — at the very least, strong cultural conditioning — that causes us to steer clear of someone whose strong emotions seem grossly out of place.

For example, if you are walking down the street on a lovely day and find someone screaming in rage for no apparent reason, you would most likely walk way around that person, wouldn’t you? If not call the cops? This makes some sense as a survival instinct, because such a person might be dangerous. Now, it could be that the screaming person has good reason to scream, but if you don’t know anything about this person you are likely to assume he’s nuts. Yes, admit it; you are. I know the social psychologists have piled up a ton of p values and chi squares to prove this.

As I wrote here, I think their apparent hysteria is one reason a majority of Americans stampeded away from the Fetus People during the Terri Schiavo death watch.

However, when there is an apparent reason for strong emotion, like bodies floating in New Orleans flood waters, a little shouting and strong language from news reporters is not only warranted; it underscores the severity of the event. If the newsies had covered post-Katrina New Orleans with the same business-as-usual tone they adopt for everything else, I’m willing to bet many viewers would have been soothed into thinking that bodies floating in flood water is no big deal. Happens all the time.

I say that what went on yesterday in the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing was the equivalent of bodies floating in flood water. These events deserve more than dispassionate explanation. The emotional cue we should be getting is “This is really bad. Be worried.”

I’m free associating this morning and possibly not making sense. More free association in the comments is welcome.

26 thoughts on “Be Worried

  1. ABSOLUTELY!!! Oops, sorry, I got carried away with emotion there.

    I guess it’s a balancing act. If you’re too emotional, people shun you; too dispassionate, they ignore you. On top of that, if you raise the alarm (with feeling) too often, people think you’re Chicken Little. This is a problem with covering the Bush administration’s activities — he gives us so much cause to raise the alarm so often.

  2. Re: “… righties can scream … and say any outrageous thing that pops into their heads and that’s OK.”

    This week my copilot told me, “I think the Democrats are secretly celebrating every time one of our troops gets killed in Iraq because that gives them hope that things will get so bad in Iraq that their candidates will win the next election.”

    I was stunned.

    Now you have to understand, the cockpit is no place for heated discussions, or any kind of emotional conversation at all. After all, I need these guys up there, and despite what you might think of their intellectual capabilities based on their political beliefs, they’re all smart, sensible, and capable aviators. So I racked my brain for a line of reasoning that I could pursue with this guy that would not lead to an emotional confrontation. I played through the scenarios in my head like I might be planning a chess move, and just like the computer in the movie “War Games,” I arrived at the conclusion that there was no winning this one.

    So in the interest of professionalism, I bit my tongue — I said nothing.

    It makes me wonder if some of the TV talking heads do the same thing.

  3. I posted a small rant yesterday about what passed for a news broadcast on ABC. On reflection, I realized that the function of the media has shifted from keeping people informed about critical matters, from treating us like adults with a stake in running our country (citizens), to simply pacifying the populace, treating us like children (consumers).

    The techniques for doing this via mass media were discovered and refined in the last century, beginning with Edward Bernays who invented modern public relations. Bernays believed that the masses needed to be controlled, he understood how to do this, and so he found a ready clientele with the economic elites who also shared this authoritarian belief. It took quite a few decades for these elites to take over the country’s institutions, but what we’re seeing in the media these days is everything that Bernays espoused.

    As for how this plays out in your very own mental space, you only need to look at the orchestration and pageantry of a Republican National Convention. It’s all stagecraft and manipulation, a total PR piece. Or the Bush presidency – rule by PR events. These are structured like a car commerical – an attempt to make you feel good and powerful by buying or supporting product X. Or look critically at an evening’s worth of television commercials – it’s all about pushing your emotional buttons, and getting you to buy the product to satisfy some contrived emotional need.

    This is what has largely come to pass for discourse in the public square in this country, aided and abetted by the economic elites who gain from this arrangement. The whole country is choked and sedated with this nonsense.

    Because our conscience has collectively become so dulled, it takes a really major event to break through the sedation, both on the part of the audience, and on the part of the humans doing the reporting. There comes a point when even the reporters who are part of this process can’t ignore what’s happening before their eyes.

    Tying back to an earlier diary, this is part of the reason why protests don’t work as well as they used to (I lived through the VietNam era, and don’t entirely discount their utility back then, although I agree with you that they definitely scared “the silent majority” and made them turn to Nixon). It takes an overwhelmingly massive number of people these days to make a dent in the national conscience via protests, because the bar has been raised via sedation and because the media is not interested in informing, but in pacifying. They have a vested interest in looking the other way.

  4. How much of this is really traceable to the media’s inattention to substance?

    I see the same things you see. My wife and I have worked hard for good candidates. Led protests locally. We’ve devoted time to walking precincts and tabling at farmers markets. We always have come away from these experiences with mixed feelings. The positive ones usually come immediately during and after doing the work. The negative ones come later when we still find ourselves in the minority group of active, involved politically Americans.

    We’d like to see results from our efforts just as any politically involved/informed person does. We keep doing this work because it has become who we are (not a hobby but a passion for living life consistent with a truth about it). We do it because living in community, widening the circle so to speak, is more meaningful than living a narrow, insular existence.

    And yet….we chaff at the effort we make while others go about their lives blithely unaware of their own civic duty (that if more employed it, would lead to a more just and peaceful society). It’s an interesting set of opposing feelings to have about something so central to one’s being. I wouldn’t trade being one of the ignorant, shallow folk doing nothing for their country yet I envy how they are spared worrying about anything significant. How they are spared having to spend time on their weekends or weeknights doing political/community work.

    Is it possible that so many people do so little? It seems to explain the state of our society. A state which is mirrored, naturally, in the people that are allowed to represent this society. A Russ Feingold is unusual. So are you with your blog. So are we, with our local political work.

    It’s interesting. Even in one of the most effective peace and social justice churches on the West Coast – All Saints Episocopal Church – Pasadena – the majority of parishoners prefer book groups and listening to lectures….instead of going out and doing the work in the streets. This doesn’t have anything to do with the media. These are bright people very much aware of this society’s unjustness and the anti-Americanness of the Republican Party.

    Something else must be going on that more people aren’t more involved in actively doing something to make their community a better place to live. I wish I could understand what that was.

  5. Maha,
    After I came back from VietNam, the country was in the throes of the culture war that still continues. A lot of otherwise thoughtful folks just hated the “pot smoking hippies” and protesters who carried signs in the streets instead of going to school or work, like good Americans, and they are probably having sex orgies, too.
    Walter Cronkite turning against the war had a much more profound effect. Making a scene in the street has very limited positive impact.
    And it’s always been about culture. Conservatives are horrified that we liberals are “getting away with something”, and this is what drives this culture war, not policy, not taxes, not war. Authoritarians hate the thought that somebody may be escaping their own suffering by living a bit more freely, and thumbing their noses at them.

  6. Maha-

    You’re not the only one who’s noticed the emotionally ambiguous coverage of such important things as the civil warfare going on in the streets of Baghdad, or the “civil” round table discussion of whether we should or shouldn’t vaporize Iran with nukes because they are – god forbid – building deterrents to us doing exactly that. And unpleasant things – torture, pictures of body parts scattered across the street in a pool of blood, these draw out emotions in us. We become sad.

    I think there’s a reason for this. These are commercial news programs… not shows, but programs.Sponsored programs. Sponsored by corporate advertisers who desperately want us to go shopping and go to our doctors for the latest in pharmaceuticals. These broadcasters too, are small parts of large corporate entities that also want and need us to feel happy, not sad, because happy people go shopping. It’s okay to feel outrage about the “culture wars” in America, but just don’t make people sad. In fact, people respond well to the “culture wars.” They happily vote against their economic interests and give away the store to the Corpos just to keep the freaks off of their street. Best of all, “culture warriors” still go shopping as much as they always did.

    Lately I have noticed the absence of Michael Ware on CNN reporting from Baghdad. He’s that nice Aussie guy from Time magazine who gives CNN the extremely alarming reports of carnage in the streets, blow by blow. He, himself, has been kidnapped and beaten and nearly killed several times doing his job and it really showed. One couldn’t help but be moved when he gave a harrowing report of the street warfare, ending his report with a very wary “if this isn’t civil war, I really don’t know what is.” This is at the time that NBC went and decided to call it a civil war and everybody else was on the fence. “Sectarian Violence” sounds so much more palatable. “Civil War” caused by our “occupation” is sad stuff. Michael Ware seems to not be reporting lately. Maybe it’s because our shopping started to drop off – and just before Christmas, even.

    Sometimes, when truly outrageous stuff happens all of the sudden, like Katrina or 9/11, it is hard to subdue the emotions in our reporters. But after a while, the coverage tones down because it’s bad for business to let people be sad for long. However, immediately after 9/11 the corpos gave us full-time coverage repeating the tragedy over and over for weeks. They capitalized on our collective paralysis and allowed a large percentage of us to be brainwashed so we would “sacrifice” our rights and our values for a little security. And then, on command, we would go shopping again when the Decider was ready to give the order.

    Okay, maybe I’ve rattled on for too long. Hope it makes sense.

  7. The right wing uses extreme emotion to rally the troops. The true believers become more committed because all they hear are the same echo-chamber opinions beamed back at them from their radios each day. The same swill of hate and lies.

    Well that made them motivated, in a “rally the base” way, but the rest of the population is left looking on confused.

    Now, the left has begun to organize it’s own echo-chamber like this site. That’s necessary, because this is a war to the death for the soul of America and the right sure as hell isn’t taking any prisoners.

    Unless we all want to live in a gulag someday, we’d better learn to fight back effectively.

    But for people in the middle, the rage of the right is starting to look a bit bizzare.

    Probably their being in power and screwing things up so badly for so long makes them sound absurd when they do things like call for MORE troops to be sent into the caldron of Iraq.

    The right-wing base loves McCain for his Dr. Strangelove escalation rhetoric, but the rest of America is increasingly turned off.

  8. I have long believed that people are more motivated by emotions than logic in making decisions. This may be one reason this country is in such a mess. Very few have to make decisions anymore that have to do with survival. We have everything. There are those that feel only females make emotional decisions. This is not true. Men (in general) are more motivated by anger and they definitely don’t like angry women because they don’t know how to react to them. Women are supposed to be passive and compassionate. People also like emotions controlled. A person raging on the street is scary but perfectly okay with talk show hosts. Of course, what I’m saying is pure nonsense because there are thinking men and women. It becomes more important every day to weigh all information before making a decision knowing that emotions will play a part but balance is good.

  9. Oh boy, free association..I like free association. Es Buena. Felix Cavalieri says, “How can I be sure in a world that’s constantly changing?’
    Sometimes I think my obsession with the Iraq war and all the nonsense that Bush is pulling is just a mild form of depression. I know in the big picture that it all will be a flash in the goes on. My view of America is an extension of myself.. that’s why I get so upset with the arrogance, the aggression, the lies, the torture, and the weaseling. I don’t want those characteristics in myself, so naturally when I see them in the character of my nation, I’m repulsed. It’s a choice and I choose to get away from it.
    It’s a lovely day here in Florida, the middle of January, and the hibiscus are blooming with an exceptional slender..I remember the words of my old friend Ahmet..” who can do like this?” I think Joyce Kilmer expressed a similar sentiment. Is freedom really on the march.?
    Does anybody remember the story called, Manwick goes to Town? I ‘ve been looking for it online and have searched eBay because it’s one of those stories we read in elementary school that I’d like to re-read before the final chapter in my life is written. That little exchange between Gonzales and Specter was interesting. What I thought was puzzling is that the constitution referred to habeas corpus as a privilege and not a right. There’s a difference there, at least from my understanding of a privilege.
    Gee, Maha..maybe you might re-think the idea of encouraging free associations in comments. For me it works because I have an undisciplined mind..or maybe a rebellious spirit that finds sanctuary in a lesser evil called an undisciplined mind. Bush needs to be Impeached! He’s a troubled soul, who like Hilter will tear down all that surrounds hims in order to save his sickness.
    OK, enough..thanks for the therapy. When iit comes to Bush..we have to work the body like a professional boxer, blow after blow, and eventually Bush won’t respond to the bell.

  10. Re Katrina:

    Big media didn’t forsee the need to spin Katrina, and a lot of reporters were allowed to report, for awhile at least.

    There were some reporters (Anderson Cooper) who got mad and stayed mad, (though obviously he was eventually encouraged to tone it.)

    Others (Geraldo) experienced a few moments of genuine humanity (as when he was pissing his pants at the Superdome), but quickly got his defenses back up (soon was interfering with rescue work in the interest of getting just the right shot of his heroism).

    I’m fascinated with those times when the ideological leanings of say, a Murdoch, conflict with the profit motive. Most of the time, those are in alignment: keeping us (a) tranquil about the injustices at home and (b) terrified and angry at the (mostly fictional) threat of some Other out there. Something like Katrina puts them in conflict (at least for awhile).

  11. Swami mentioned impeachment (#10). I read somewhere (wish I could find you the link) that something like 51 % of the country wants Bush impeached, double the number for Clinton when Big Dog was actually going through it. This is despite the fact that the Clinton impeachment was constantly in the news, but today, you cannot find the I-word mentioned at all by the media, even though the evidence for it dwarfs anything Bill was being charged with.

  12. “that could be me”…this is the reaction americans had to Katrina or Shivago. People watched on TV as bush dismantled the lives of 1.4 million americans in NOLA. They lost their homes, jobs, and family members and all bush did was put them on plains to dry land. If the people on the roofs had all be evacuated prior to the flooding…then there would have millions on dry land in need of help that would have been just as late. That could have been you.

    The effects of the Iraq war have been hidden from Americans. They do not see the refugee camps, the flag drapped coffins, or the soldiers maimed by the war. The only amputee I have seen is Tammy Duckworth…where have they hidden all the others??? Americans only get to see the young and healthy faces of the dead soldiers in the local papers…if they bother to look. But something is going on. Young men are not joining the military. I think a new terror attack here might not result in an increase those willing to fight terror over there.

  13. Maha…You know I’ve always thought the influence of the “anti-war left” was vastly overstated…Mainly by such drivelers as Todd Gitlin, whose opus on the 60’s was a large exercise in leterary onanism…

    What killed the war in Vietnam was the aftermath of the Tet Offensive…All those “ordinary” folks who had gone along with LBJ for so long woke up to the fact they’d been had…(As had LBJ, IMO)…

    Also please note…Nixon couldn’t even get elected Governor of California in ’62 – even though he had the complete backing of the same “financial elites” who had first sent him to the House of Representatives as a red-baiting Congressman…

    But the Trickster got the Presidency in ’68…Because he had the help of the same squad who let him down in the end…Namely the L.A. shop of the J. Walter Thompson Advertising Agency…

    Haldeman, Erlichman, Jeb Stuart Magruder, etc. were seasoned advertising flacks…They produced an “image” and sold it to the public…Just like Nixon was a new “Feminine Deoderant Spray”, or something equally useless…

    Where we are now is simply the logical progression down the path of image-creation and consumerism…

    Didn’t Bush urge us all to go shopping right after 911?

  14. Another great post, thank you! Regarding the antiwar movement, Molly Ivins has a little different take. I think you are very correct about people taking their cues from their environment. I know a number of people who don’t have televisions because of all of the cues presented in everything seen on TV.

    Perhaps antiwar activities could provide a reasonable cue and bring the issue out from under the pundit blanket. I am not given to demonstrations much like you, and I would certainly never bang on pots and pans, but somehow, we need to have more people demanding an end to this nonsense.

    Something that has always bugged me is seeing Democrats on Fox News. The Fox people are not friends of the progressive or liberal movements. They intend to hurt and to destroy the Democrats and progressive causes. The are the exact definition of right wing authoritarians. When Democrats appear on the Fox news channel, it lends them credibility they do no deserve. People pick up on that cue and it is a damaging cue that we could well do without.

  15. In this culture, we inure the very young to become numb to violence and tragedy and passion by subjecting pre-schoolers to violence and tragedy and continual loud hype on television programming, soap operas and commercials. That daily diet of ‘drama’ feels to a baby or young child like a physical angst in the gut. But the child soon comes to follow the cues of the adults around them and build a gut-level numbness, which becomes an immunity to direct responsive feeling. There is a keenly felt ‘life or death’ drama that children in a war zone endure and which eventually leads them to adapt with a ‘toughness’ or ‘glittery-eyedness’, or even radicalism, taking cues from adults who survive. That same drama plays out in our youngsters’ psyches, but with a difference inasmuch as our young get doubly removed from healthy, reality based feelings. A child of wartime is coping with reality as best he/she can. A child in our culture is learning to ‘not believe’ in carnage as real.
    I don’t know if I have conveyed this dynamic well enough with the above paragraph. But, I am thinking that the pundits who can sit calmly while discussing life and death issues have 1] been cued to this disconnect all their lives, and 2] are mirroring the culture.

  16. It’s difficult to decide where to begin, so I’ll start with a thank you to Swami and Moonbat for a history of thoughtful comments ( I’m not leaving ‘Marvel out , he just didn’t happen to comment yet).

    As I have commented before, I never followed politics much until 1999, when Bush and Gore were running for the presidency.Somehow I knew Bush was going to do some REALLY bad things, and MY hair was on fire. Dumb little old me was right.

    What really bugs me now, is the blatant propaganda, for instance, regarding the recent U.S. air strikes in Somalia, an NPR reporter said “AlQaida “linked” suspects have been attacked by U.S. forces”
    Some might think this is a good thing, but since when do you send in Puff the Magic Dragon with gattlin guns ablazing to kill suspects? It is now the norm.Screw international boundaries.The USA under George Bush resembles the old USSR as far as the secrecy, disinformation, propaganda, and strong armed politics goes.
    Another thing that chaps my ass is the pretty people delivering the news. Don Henley got it right in “Dirty Laundry” how the bobble-headed bleached blond can tell you about a plane crash with a gleam in her eye, it’s interesting when people die ,give us dirty laundry.

    The MSM has, for the most part, gone MIA (with a few exceptions, KUDOS to Olbermann and Matthews, and to a lesser degree Scarborough and even Tucker Carlson has seen the light.)
    On the other side, we have Glen Beck and O’Reilly. Anyone believing their hate speak is beyond help.Beck in particular is an animated mad-man.

    As far as what can be done to turn this thing around,I believe it’s begining to happen mostly because Americans are no longer interested in waiting for things. We want stuff NOW, including results.I believe most of us don’t want to be talking about the 30,000th life lost after “Mission accomplished”.

    Bush still has a base, but it’s shrinking fast. Everyone I work with thinks he is terrible, and they all voted for him BOTH times.
    About the only cars still sporting a Bush/Cheney bumper sticker around these parts also have an anti-abortion license tag, a magnetic plastic fish, or some red neck “the South will rise again ” B.S. And there is the occasional clueless senior citizen (80 or older) with the American flags on both sides of the vehicle, driving 50 mph in the fast lane with their left blinker on.God bless’em!
    I’m thinking protesting en mass has little effect, especially when the more fringe groups are in the parade. Perhaps a better way is to quietly chip at the base by sending weekly notes to our congress critters, gently convincing our fellow citizens and family, and blogging our asses off.
    The internet has been an invaluable asset. When all this came down after 9/11, I thought my wife and I were the only ones who felt this way. So many were afraid to speak out.
    As every day passes, it becomes more obvious that things are headed towards the abyss, and thankfully , it is becoming more apparent to more people. Not only can it be stopped, it will be stopped.
    I predicted several years ago that Bush would be taken from the White House in a straight jacket. That day approaches.

  17. According to right-wing radio talk show hosts, the men who go off to war are the real men and the rest of American men are, in the words of Arnold, “girly-men”. Radio talk show hosts say that road accidents kill more men in a year than have been killed in Iraq. Where is the outrage for aborted children, instead of outrage for Iraqis – who when all is said and done, are still glad to be free of Sadam Hussein. Lost family members or not. Democrat protesters are ‘wet blankets’, they don’t want America to win, they want us to lose. Us against them, them against us. I get so tired of it. While they have us pitted against each other over the war, what else is going on that we aren’t paying attention to? How did people like my father suddenly wake up one day and find his medical pension benefits taken away? How did others wake up one day to find all their benefits taken away? Not to mention those with master’s level degrees who all of a sudden find they can’t get a permanent, full-time job with benefits? Righties complain about abortions, but they don’t want to help raise the child. Righties complain about religion being lost in America and then build humongous, multi-million dollar churches that rake in millions. Where is all that money going, that doesn’t go into churches? Is it going to New Orleans? To proselytize in Iraq? Lefties complain about war, but isn’t there much worse to be found every night in television shows or at the local movie theater? The world today is warped, warped, warped.

  18. We seem programmed to dislike losers. Hence the power of “girly men” and “cut and runners” The current attraction to the right wing is similar to the attraction to the Hitler youth movement.
    Bush has failed in Iraq and he was dumped in Nov.

    Pelosi at present seems like a winner and hence her 66 percent approval rating.

    We progressives have to couch our principles as WINNING strategies.


  19. I suspect that what looks like apathy among the american public is something more like depression — which is a barely suppressed rage. people are pissed but don’t know what to do with it, either embarrassed at how wrong they could be or feeling impotent.

    As for the pundit-types, in addition to all the terrible characteristics that you, digby, somerby, and others point out, I think they also have been frozen by the bush administration’s boldness in lying and dissembling. As Krugman said a few years ago already, just to list their crimes and malfeasance is to sound shrill.

  20. What kind of bird doesn’t fly?

    A… a jail bird….Ney got 30 months..just a portion of what he deserved, but better than nothing.. I’ll take it!

  21. without doubt human beings pick up their action cues from the society and people they are submerged in. A baby seems to me, and I’ve been responsible for six of them from birth so far, one landing in my own hands for the first human touch she would ever have save her mothers womb, and they all are simply human beings, empty, waiting for input; to be programmed might be a decent analogy. So somewhere along the line we all become the people we are led to be. Take a baby, fresh born, from anywhere and raise it as your own and it will be just that, your own child. Yes, genes will color the skin, determine athleticism, give good or bad health and a myriad of other reactions that we as animals have no control over, other than gene splicing. Throughout life we continue, as you have said, receive clues leading us to actions we don’t think much about. Somehow this administration has drawn on this dynamic and people are subdued, uneasy at making a noise, not wanting to be the odd man out. This very trait is what may bring us down as a country, complacency brought on with intent by mass media companies in control of what we see.

  22. One trait of human nature which Bush exploits effectively is the sincere desire of the average person to BELIEVE that officials, political and religious, are better than he is. The mind of the average person recoils at the thought that an ultra-conservative preacher is secretly gay or that the president is actively subverting the Bill of Rights.

    The people of Europe and Russia are generally more aware of the true and dangerous nature of this president, the specific abuses that concern them, and can make a good guess at his overall global strategy. They are amazed that we are not getting it.

    IMHO – the psychology of national denial has a parallel in modern history; the German people refused to see the global threat and repercussions of Hitler’s rise to power. They did not WANT to see! What a shock to the psyche the end of that war must have been to the survivors. What a shock it will be to most Americans to discover that God will not protect the USA from the folly of her leaders.

    I have to respond to Joe in # 2. I hope when I fly, you are in the front seat; your response – or lack of – was prudent. However, I would have found it irresistable once the plane was down to say “You know, I think Bush is secretly hoping the terrorists will kill a few thousand Americans because it’s the only event that will save his policies.”

  23. I agree with you and you are not nuts.
    The media has been doing liberal a disservice for so long know. Just read an article on Ted nugent and his antics at Rick Perry’s inaguration.
    My first thought was and they think hollywood is crazy?
    Why don’t they censor Ann Coulter and michelle Malkin for her their hate speeches? ANd all the other commentators that actually advocate violence against liberals?
    oops I forgot, free speech. They love the first admendment only when it pertains to them!!!

  24. I’m sure many people on the left would like to censor the rabid right for some of the rediculous things they say.
    Let’em rant. They’re crazy as a bunch of sprayed bugs, and everyone is noticing. From Ted Haggert to Tom DeLay, they have met their fate. They’ll be dropping from fame like flies between now and ’08.

  25. Great post and comments.

    I sat home last night and watched a bit of TV. Something I rarely do. First I watched a peculiar scifi film called They Live where the protagonist played by wrestler Roddy Piper finds some special sunglasses (cheesy looking) that show all media as subliminal messages. The glasses also reveal that those in power are an alien force committed to controlling the earth and using humans as a breeding pool. One scene shows the human elite colluding with the aliens. Enablers, like Joe Lieberman.

    Although a heavy handed b movie, the critique of media contained more than a grain of truth.

    Next I watched Dennis Miller on HBO. He did a fabulous job of mixing sharp well timed comedy with a painful right wing screed. My guess is that people had little idea at the various Democrats pilloried by Miller but his timing had them laughing. He made a racist zenophobic comment about killing fez wearing… as a logical response to 9/11 and went on to mouth Rovian talking points conflating the war on terror and Iraq. He ended up by poo pooing global warming and advocated treating Alaska like the refrigerator in the garage. There to be raided.

    What happened to Miller? There is plenty of room for mockery left and right but he has become a tool of the fear/hate mongering right. Maybe he is one of those aliens for They Live. The bulk of news heads likely are.

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