An Indicted (GOP) Senator, a Disgraced (GOP-run) Justice Department, a Gagged (GOP-managed) EPA--Just Another Day in D.C.
Corruption-o-rama in Washington on Tuesday:
On the front page is news (or confirmation) that Aberto Gonzales' Justice Department was run by partisan hacks who illegally denied jobs to applicants who were not Republicans and Christian conservatives.
The Associated Press is reporting that the "Environmental Protection Agency is telling its pollution enforcement officials not to talk with congressional investigators, reporters and even the agency's own inspector general, according to an internal e-mail." AP adds: "The EPA is currently under pressure from several congressional committees to disclose documents relating to its position on global warming and its denial of a petition by California to control greenhouse gases from motor vehicles. Last week, EPA Administrator Stephen Johnson denied a request to appear before two Senate committees to discuss whether the agency's decisions comply with its staff's technical and legal recommendations."
And Senator Ted Stevens, an Alaska Republican, was indicted for making false statements on his financial disclosure forms to conceal $250,000 in goods and services he received from an oil company that sought official assistance from Stevens. The 84-year-old Stevens used to chair the powerful Senate appropriations committee.
Cronyism that undermines good government, a gag order that attempts to block the flow of information needed for oversight, and a case of (alleged) personal corruption in which a legislator exploited his office to line his own pocket--it's as if the seven-and-half years of the Bush presidency was boiled down into one news cycle. The only thing missing is a war sold on false pretenses.
So I finally get to blog about Faith and Jerry's trip to Mt. Rushmore for the 4th of July week. They took some pictures of their adventure and I was surprised to see the Prez's faces from another perspective. Very cool. Their trip took them to South and North Dakota and Wyoming.
They also ran into some wildlife while on the road. Faith took pictures (of course) from the sunroof of their rental car. This is a herd of buffalo that, obviously, have the right-of-way when you happen upon them while driving. Thank goodness my friends go places and do things. I live my life vicariously through them. Here's a close up of a bison (another name for buffalo) that wanted to get up close and personal with Faith and Jerry. That head is massive.
As you can see there were other cars on the road that were stopped by the buffalo. Not something you'll see in Rhode Island, that's for sure. Could you imagine running into one of these herds while trying to get somewhere on time? You'd be late, I think. Faith wasn't the only one to pop out of the sunroof of a car to look at the herd. Very cool. Amazing, actually. Here are a couple of African elephants. Faith and Jerry did not see them on their trip, I just like the picture so I decided to add it. Did you know that the reason African elephants have larger ears than the Asian elephants is because of the intense heat of Africa. There are thousands of blood vessels in the elephants ears. As they fan them, it cools the blood in those vessels and the cooler blood travels throughout their body to keep them from overheating. It takes approximately 20 minutes for the cooled blood to work it's way back to the ears. Pretty interesting, huh? I think you'd have to stop for a herd of elephants too!
I'm trying to figure out which friend or frenemy signed me up for all of the republican mailings that I have been receiving.
I have to laugh at it because if they think it's any kind of annoyance or that I would get pissed, they've got it all backwards. Having worked for campaigns, I know how expensive it is to get all of the items printed that need to be mailed. Today I got a 4 page letter, a donor card, a bumper sticker and a return, postage paid envelope! That must have cost them a pretty penny. All this from John McBush, I mean McCain. I love having a bumper sticker to add to my collection on the Volvo.
Let the republicans waste their money mailing their junk mail to me! I just return it - at their cost. I filled out the dollar amount they wanted to have me contribute. By law, no one individual can donate more than $2,300 to any one candidate. I put down $1,000,000 with a big HAH after it. What fun! I've got nothing better to do than return mail (postage paid!!) to the republicans. No, really, I mean it. I've got nothing better to do.
What do we expect in a state that is soft on drunk drivers!? Does anyone know this idiot?
PROVIDENCE, R.I. - State police say they arrested a man early Tuesday whose blood alcohol level was 0.491 percent — the highest ever recorded in Rhode Island for someone who wasn't dead.
Stanley Kobierowski was taken to a hospital, put in the detoxification unit and sedated, said Maj. Steven O'Donnell. He was arraigned Tuesday on charges of driving while intoxicated and resisting arrest, and he was released after promising to appear Friday at a court hearing.
Kobierowski, 34, of North Providence, was arrested after he drove into a highway message board on Interstate 95 in Providence, O'Donnell said.
After police arrived, Kobierowski had trouble getting out of the car, then grabbed it and refused to move, forcing troopers to carry him to the breakdown lane before taking him back to their barracks, O'Donnell said.
A breath test showed blood alcohol readings of 0.489 percent, followed by 0.491, O'Donnell said, the highest readings state officials could remember for someone who didn't end up dead.
The legal limit in Rhode Island is 0.08. A level of 0.30 is classified as stupor, 0.4 is comatose and 0.5 is considered fatal, according to the health department.
President George W. Bush prides himself on "making tough decisions." But many are sensing something seriously troubling, even psychologically unbalanced, about the president as a decision-maker. They are right.
Because of a psychological dynamic swirling around deeply hidden feelings of inadequacy, the president has been driven to make increasingly incompetent and risky decisions. This dynamic makes the psychological stakes for him now unimaginably high. The words "success" and "failure" have seized his rhetoric like metaphors for his psyche's survival.
The president's swirling dynamic lies "hidden in plain sight" in his personal history. From the time he was a boy until his religious awakening in his early 40s, Bush had every reason to feel he was a failure. His continued, almost obsessive, attempts through the years to emulate his father, obtain his approval, and escape from his influence are extensively recorded.
His biography is peppered with remarks and behavior that allude to this inner struggle. In an exuberant moment during his second campaign for Texas governor, Bush told a reporter, "It's hard to believe, but ... I don't have time to worry about being George Bush's son. Maybe it's a result of being confident. I'm not sure how the psychoanalysts will analyze it, but I'm not worried about it. I'm really not. I'm a free guy."
A psychoanalyst would note that he is revealing here that he has been worrying about being his father's son quite a lot.
Resentment naturally contaminated Bush's efforts to prove himself to his father and receive his father's approval. The contradictory mix showed up in his compulsion to re-fight his father's war against Iraq, but this time winning the duel some thought his father failed to win with Saddam. He could at once emulate his father, show his contempt for him, and redeem him. But beneath this son-father struggle lies a far more significant issue for Bush - a question about his own competence, adequacy and autonomy as a human being.
We have seen this inner question surface repeatedly, and we have largely conspired with him to deny it.
On September 11, 2001, we saw (and suppressed) the image of him sitting stunned for seven minutes in a crowd of school children after learning that the second plane had hit the Twin Towers, and then the lack of image of him when he vanished from public view for the rest of the day. Instead, we bought the cover-up image, three days after the attack, of the strong leader, grabbing the bullhorn in New York City and issuing bellicose statements.
In 2004, we saw and denied the insecurity displayed when the president refused to face the 9/11 Commission alone and needed Vice President Cheney to go with him.
In 2003, we saw and suppressed the dark side of the "Mission Accomplished" aircraft carrier landing, in which a man who had ducked out on his generation's war and dribbled away his service in the Texas Air National Guard dressed up like Top Gun and pretended that he was a combat pilot like his father.
Asked by a reporter if he would accept responsibility for any mistakes, Bush answered, "I hope I don't want to sound like I've made no mistakes. I'm confident I have. I just haven't - you just put me under the spot here, and maybe I'm not quick - as quick on my feet as I should be in coming up with one." What we heard, and yet didn't hear, was a confession of his feelings of inadequacy and an arrogant denial those feelings all at once.
In early 2006, when his father moved behind the scenes to replace Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and the son responded, "I'm the decider and I decide what's best" - and when he clenched his fist at a question about his father's influence, proclaiming, "I'm the Commander in Chief" - we glimpsed what was going on.
To cover up and defend himself against his feelings of his inadequacy and incompetence, Bush developed a number of psychological defenses. In his school years he played the clown. (His ability to joke about his verbal slip-ups is an endearing adult application of this defense to public life.) His heavy drinking was a classic way to anesthetize feelings of inadequacy. Indeed, drinking typically makes the alcoholic grandiose, which has led some commentators to argue that Bush has the "dry drunk" syndrome, where the individual has stopped drinking but retains the brittle psychology of the alcoholic. Other defenses now play especially powerful roles to protect the president against his internal feelings of insufficiency.
The Christian Defense Bush has carefully let it be known that he believes the decisions he makes in office are directed by God. His famous claim to make decisions by "gut" ("I'm a gut player," he told Bob Woodward) equates with his claim of the spiritual inspiration he receives through prayer, his own and the prayers of others. Whatever else it is, this equation of his own choices with God's will has unparalleled advantages. It creates the perfect defense against any doubts he or anyone else might have that he can't make the right decision. The need to engage in analysis and explore alternatives to get there comes off the table. Instead, he has his gut; he has his God.
Being "born again" also allows the president to present himself as having relegated to the past all those previously inadequate behaviors of his younger days: the poor academic performance, the drinking, the failed businesses. He's a new man, no longer incompetent but now supremely competent as a result of his faith.
When Woodward asked Bush if he had consulted his father before invading Iraq, he replied, "He is the wrong father to appeal to in terms of strength. There is a higher father that I appeal to." How wonderfully that appeal must seem to resolve the internal conflict about adequacy we have described above.
The Bully Defense Bush's mother, Barbara (sarcastic, mean, disciplinarian, always with an acid-tongued retort), is probably the model for another major defense Bush deploys to defend himself against feelings of inadequacy. A friend at the time described her as "sort of the leader bully."
That bullies are insecure people is well known and fairly obvious. A bully covers insecurity with bluster and intimidation so that others won't find an opening to see how weak he feels.
Much of the world outside the US considers Bush a bully. "You're either with us or against us" is a bully's threat that anyone can recognize. The Bush doctrine of pre-emptive strikes is a bully's doctrine.
For his intimates and those closer to home, Bush appears to be what is called an emotional bully. An emotional bully gains control using sarcasm, teasing, mocking, name calling, threatening, ignoring, lying, or angering the other and forcing him to back down. Bush administration insider accounts describe this sort of behavior from the president. He's well known for his dismissive remarks. His penchant for giving nicknames to everyone has its dark, bully's side. Naming people is a way to control them.
In report by Gail Sheehy in 2000, recalled recently by New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd, we get a glimpse of how Bush's pervasive fear of failure (his absolute refusal to consider "failure as an option") and his bully defense go together. Sheehy interviewed friends from his teenage years and college years. In basketball or tennis games he would insist points be played over because he wasn't ready; he would force opponents who had beaten him to continue playing until he beat them. At Yale he would interrupt his fellow students' studying for exams (helping them fail) to compete in a popular board game, "The Game of Global Domination," at which he was the player noted for taking the most risks, being the most aggressive.
It's likely that speculations about Vice President Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld and Condoleezza Rice functioning as Bush's puppet-masters are 180 (or at least 160) degrees off. Bush is the president; he gets his way, and they know it. Chances are they have learned to channel his "gut" and give him policy advice that matches it. They may even imagine they are steering him, not clear about the ways that he has bullied them, elicited in them "The Stockholm Syndrome," in which hostages come to identify with and even defend the very person who is threatening them. This is the same dynamic evident in the behavior of battered spouses and members of gangs.
Ron Suskind described the small group around the president: "A disdain for contemplation or deliberation, an embrace of decisiveness - a sometimes bullying impatience with doubters and even friendly questioners."
Biographical reports tell us that Bush's parents taught him to keep his inner feelings to himself. As psychiatrist Justin A. Frank noted in Bush on the Couch, this results in a "self-protective indifference to the pain of others." This is another aspect of his bully defense, projecting his inner pain onto others. Bush's remarkable drive for the power to torture terrorist suspects and his reported glorying in Texas executions during his terms as governor testify to his lack of compassion, despite his recent statement of qualms about seeing Saddam Hussein drop through the trap.
The Man of Splits and Oppositions Being in the world, for all of us, involves the challenge to somehow integrate the opposites of our nature and to select our way through the many opposing choices presented us in life. The bully polarizes the natural ambivalence (the internal opposition) anyone feels about whether he is strong or weak, safe or vulnerable. A person who needs to feel invulnerable and completely adequate all the time, or who always feels helpless and inadequate, has polarized these emotions and leads a deformed life. The degree of internal polarization in President Bush appears to be serious - and widespread. Commentators have made lists of the president's polarities: the proclaimed uniter who is a relentless divider, the habit of "saying one thing and doing another," as Vermont Senator Jim Jeffords put it. The list is long and growing. It should include the oppositions that show up in his famous Bushisms, such as:
There is no doubt in my mind that we should allow the world's worst leaders to hold America hostage, to threaten our peace, to threaten our friends and allies with the world's worst weapons. They [the terrorists] never stop thinking of ways to harm our country and our people - and neither do we.
To a psychiatrist, these are not mere malapropisms and mistakes in speech. They suggest ambivalence oscillating violently between poles. They suggest a desperate uncertainty about everything that the president reflexively seeks to hide by taking absolutist, rigid positions about "victory," "success," "mission accomplished," "stay the course," "compassion," "tax cuts," "no child left behind," and a host of other issues.
The Presidential Defense Once Bush took the bullhorn at ground zero, he found perhaps the ultimate defense for his secret fears of inadequacy. As he told Bob Woodward, in Bush at War, "I'm the commander - see, I don't need to explain - I do not need to explain why I say things. That's the interesting thing about being the president. Maybe somebody needs to explain to me why they say something, but I don't feel like I owe anybody an explanation." As commander in chief, as a war president, he could assemble his other psychological defenses around him. He could split the world into good and evil and the country would follow. His internal oppositions could be projected without much resistance from the populace or his adversaries. He could be the gut-led, divinely inspired "Decider," to save the country. He could project own internal fears of being "discovered as a fraud" into a threat "out there" waiting to happen. He could surround himself with loyalists whom he could emotionally bully, creating a new family that would admire him and that he could control. Meanwhile the ambiguities of political decisions that can always be rationalized offer a safe haven. Until history judges me (and that's a long way off, maybe never) I can't be definitively seen as incompetent.
But as much as the presidency is a perfect defense for disguising incompetence, it's also the perfect trap. It accelerates the positive feedback loop that was set in motion when he "changed his heart" around age 40 (committing himself to God) and presumably put his failures, and his feelings of failure behind him.
In recent weeks, anyone following the news must have intuitively sensed from watching and hearing the president that he would reject the Iraq Study Group's report, co-authored by a person he must have felt was the emissary of his father come to tell him that he had failed again. He chose escalation, the one solution most knowledgeable people agree cannot succeed, in order to keep alive the fiction that success still lies in the future.
The dynamic is becoming obvious to almost everybody.
But how much is Bush aware of this psychological dynamic and of the secret he's keeping? Not aware enough. That's the problem. Psychotherapists use the term "unconscious," but it isn't quite an accurate descriptor. We are aware of feelings, sensations and scripts that occur when one of our unseen psychic mechanisms is triggered. So, when an interviewer asked about the generals who demanded Rumsfeld be removed, and the president knew his father had been working behind the scenes to replace Rumsfeld, the question would not have triggered the conscious thought: there goes dad again trying to make me feel incompetent. Instead, the president may have felt a hollow sensation or a flush of anger, an urge to form a clownish grin to cover his watery feelings, and a script that would come out of his mouth as "I'm the decider." Beneath that would be the inadequacy and cover-up dynamic outlined here.
A president's psychology and his inner secrets are his or her own business, except in one important area. That is area covered by the question, "Does the psychology of this individual interfere with his or her ability to make sound decisions in the best interest of the nation?" Recent history has certainly been witness to presidents with psychodynamics that have damaged their historical legacies. Bill Clinton and Richard Nixon come to mind. But in neither case was the very ability to make sound decisions compromised to the extent we believe it is with this president.
A Failed Process Many accounts of the president suggest that his decision-making process is a failed one; in an important sense, it is no process at all.
Ambivalent feelings are normal at certain stages of decision-making, and the ability to tolerate ambivalence has been shown to be the hallmark of creative thinkers. The inability to tolerate uncertainty because you think that may imply incapacity brings decision-making to an end.
Thus, instead of focusing on the process needed to arrive at a decision, Bush marshals his defenses in order not to feel incompetent. That doesn't leave much room for exploring the alternatives required of competent decision-making. Not interested in discussion or detail (where the devil often lies), he seeks something minimal, just enough so he can let the decision come to him; it's his "gut" (read "God") that will provide the answer. But these gut feelings are the very feelings associated with his deep sense of inadequacy and his defenses against those feelings. So while he brags that he makes the "tough decisions," psychologically, he's defending himself against the very feelings of uncertainty that are the necessary concomitant to making tough decisions. His tough decision-making is a sham.
In the recent maneuvering toward the "new strategy" in Iraq, we have witnessed a great pretense of normal decision-making. But the president clearly made up his mind almost as soon as the "surge" alternative appeared, and apparently moved to cow others, including his new secretary of defense Robert Gates (his father's man) in the process. "Success" is the only alternative for him. "Failure" and disintegration of Iraq is unthinkable because it would be synonymous with his own internal disintegration.
As his decisions go awry, he exudes a troubling, uncanny aura of certitude (though some find it reassuring). He seems to expect to feel despised and alone (and probably has always felt that), as he has always secretly expected to fail. That expectation of failure leads to sloppy, risky, incompetent decisions, which in turn compel him to swerve from his fears of incompetence.
At this point, the president seems to have entered a place in his psyche where he is discounting all external criticism and unpopularity, and fixing stubbornly on his illusion of vindication, because he's still "The Decider," who can just keep deciding until he gets to success. It's hard not to feel something heroic in this position - but it's a recipe for bad, if not catastrophic, decisions.
Psychologically, President Bush has received support for so long because many have thought of him as "one of us." Most of us feel inadequate in some way, and watching him we can feel his inadequacies and sense his uncertainties, so we admire him for "pulling it off." His model tells us, "If you act like you're confident and competent, then you are." We are the culture that values the power of positive thinking and seeks assertiveness training. We believe that the right attitude can sometimes be more important than brains or hard work. He's bullied us, too. We don't dare to really confront the scale of his incompetent behavior, because then we would have to face what it means to have such an incompetent and psychologically disabled decision-maker as our president. It raises everyone's uncertainty. And that is, in fact, happening now.
from truthout.org published 18 January 2007 ---------- John P. Briggs, MD, is retired from over 40 years of private practice in psychotherapy in Westchester County, New York. He was on the faculty in psychiatry at the Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center in New York City for 23 years and was a long-time member of the American Academy of Psychoanalysis. He trained at the William Alanson White Institute in New York.
J.P. Briggs II, PhD, is a Distinguished CSU professor at Western Connecticut State University and is the senior editor of the intellectual journal The Connecticut Review. He is author and co-author of books on creativity and chaos, including Fire in the Crucible (St. Martin's Press); Fractals, the Patterns of Chaos (Simon and Schuster); and Seven Life Lessons of Chaos (HarperCollins), among others. He is currently at work with Philadelphia psychologist John Amoroso on a book about the power of ambivalence in the creative process.
So we can't even trust the word of local gas station owners! People can justify anything, even by stretching or bending the truth.
The cost of crude has been dropping on world markets, but drivers have yet to see any significant relief at the pump.
According to AAA, the average cost of regular gasoline is $4.09 a gallon in Rhode Island. The average is $4.07 a gallon in Massachusetts. In Connecticut, the average is $4.36 a gallon.
Gas station owner Ken Martone told NBC 10 that gasoline prices haven't dropped because drivers are paying for gasoline that has already been delivered. It was purchased at a higher price and therefore has to be sold at a higher price.
Martone said that once the gas in the tanks is gone, prices will slowly go down. But he said people are driving less and filling up less, meaning many stations are using up their existing fuel at a slower rate.
But they raise the price as soon as the price of a barrel rises halfway across the world.
Why is it that the minute the price of a barrel of oil goes up, there's somebody out at all the gas stations changing the price to reflect that change that took place half a world away? Like within the same day. The gasoline in the tanks has already been either paid for or a price has been agreed upon.
And now, in these past few days, as the price of oil has fallen $15.00 or more dollars, why is there no one out there lowering the price??
The price of gas at the corner gas stations near my house is $4.11 a gallon. The next city over I can get that same gallon of gas for $3.95.
I'd like to know what the h e double hockey sticks is going on!?
I don't know anyone who likes Jesse Jackson or thinks that he's done anything positive for black people in the 40 years since Martin Luther King Jr. was killed.
When Jesse Jackson opens his mouth to speak, most of the time you can't understand a word he says. And when you do get the gist of what he is saying, it's usually not worth listening to.
So it's a little bit funny that there is this furor about him calling Barack Obama a "nigger" and saying he wants to "cut his nuts off." This is the guy, after all, who referred to New York City as "Hymietown" during an interview in the 80's.
I'm not gonna sugar coat the use of the "N" word. It's an ugly, vile, disrespectful word that, until you actually hear it or say it, you only then realize the impact of what it means.
Can you imagine if someone white said what Jackson said? Oh my, Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton would be calling a press conference and condemning them for using that ugly, ugly word. Don Imus was sent away with his racist tail between his legs for saying "nappy headed ho's," which is nothing compared to what the Reverend Jackson said. Such a godly man.
But for Jackson to refer to Obama as a nigger, kind of makes me laugh a little. Okay, a lot. He's a racist. Always has been, always will be. Period.
For months now I've been bugging my friends Jan and Faith to get their families together so we could have a game night. Easier said than done, that's for sure.
So, finally, last Friday night we got together. Jan's husband, Tom works the 3rd shift, so he got the night off. Kimmy,who is home from college was following John Mayer around the NY, NJ area, so she was missing. Kristina and Tom Jr. who both work full time and have pretty full social lives, cleared their schedule to stay home and play.
Faith and husband Jerry both spend a great deal of time on the road, but were home from the wild west with pictures of stone presidents and covered wagons. Their youngest, Joseph is fighting fires in North Carolina, so his excuse for missing game night was a good one. His sister, Rachel, who was able to break away from campaigning for City Council, came without her husband, but brought her adorable almost 18 month old son, Benjamin. Timothy and his wife, Becky were there also.
My niece Vanessa came by for awhile with my cute little great niece, Jaelyn. And, lastly, but not leastly, a very pregnant Christine was there.
Whether at Faith's or Jan's house, presentation is of utmost importance. Jan, who loves to cook, had meatballs for sandwiches, cold cuts, pepperoni and sausage loaves, chicken salad as well as chips, fruit and chocolate cupcakes filled with creme and decorated with little flowers on top. Everthing was artfully arranged, especially the cupcakes; which were on 3 tiered cake platters. I brought brownies in a plastic tub (I'm just not into presentation.)
The food was delicious (as always) and the company was second to none. After a couple of hours of eating and visiting (and looking at the wild, wild west pictures) we settled into our game of choice; Trivial Pursuit.
This morning, as Veronica was leaving for work, a guy in a pick-up truck with a trailer attached (junk car on trailer) asked Veronica if we were interested in getting the Volvo towed away as junk!!! She said no, thank goodness, but can you imagine somebody thinks my old car is junk?! It must look different to others than it does to me, because I still see it as a great car. I love my car today as much as the day I drove it out of the showroom doors. Sure it’s a little beat up, but I haven’t had a car payment in 10 years and the most I put into it is about $1,000 each year! Seems like a bargain to me and since I know the history of the car, I’m pretty sure I know it’s limitations (if any.)
After she left, I tried to get on line, but there was no internet service. I had put my scanner on earlier when I saw a fire truck go by so I knew there was a bad accident, but I had no idea that the internet service would be affected. (Also, no TV or telephone!)
So I decided to go back to bed. In my dream a little while later, I discovered that my father had sold my Volvo to some girl for $200!! I was riding around with her, sitting in the back seat. She was driving and I was telling her the history, but she wasn’t paying attention and was pushing buttons and she had changed the radio stations!! I was so mad. Mad at my father for selling my car in the first place, and mad at the girl who obviously didn’t know what a special car it was. And $200 seemed like an insult, too!
Anyway, I woke up and thank goodness my Volvo was right there in the driveway, safe and sound!
Gas isn't due to peak until November - like $4.10 isn't high enough. The electric company here in Rhode Island is asking for an increase of over 21% and they will get it, because state and federal laws allow a utility company to recover from customers what it pays for electricity or natural gas, as long as the company makes "prudent" buying decisions.
The housing problems will go on for at least another year. Good for buyers who have the money and excellent credit to buy, bad for sellers. So everybody stay put!
I thought this was a pretty picture of fireworks: I've been dizzy for 5 days! Not sure what is going on but I've been unable to navigate my house without feeling like I'm on a ship at sea. Hope it goes away soon!