On the Nightstand

Profit Over People by Noam Chomsky characterizes neoliberalism as a fraudulent, corporate- and money-driven policy at the root of America's blackened political landscape. Driving his points home with characteristic intensity, he paints a bleak portrait in which corporate interests, media control by elites, a growing consumerist culture, an apathetic middle class, and a decades-long propaganda campaign about the benefits of free market capitalism vs. the evils of socialist policies, combine to asphyxiate any real attempt at democratic change. Grade: A



Late frost, SNAP! Color
fades, stems bend, buds retreat, back
to the winter warmth.


The Logic of Cognitive Dissonance

A week ago today, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales testified before congress regarding his role in the firing of eight United States attorneys for what appear to be political reasons. During his testimony, he alternated between accepting full responsibility for the firings and claiming he had no recollection of meetings in which the dismissals were discussed. In fact, Mr. Gonzales cited faulty memory 71 times throughout the hearing, leading a growing number of senators (including some republicans—most prominently Arizona Senator John McCain) to call for his resignation. Indeed, with the senate inquiry highlighting Gonzales’ incompetence and incapacity to effectively perform his job, support for the Attorney General has plummeted across the board, both from within the halls of Congress and from the general public.

But despite the mounting discontent, there remains one key bastion of support—su amigo, President Bush—who on Friday praised Gonzales’ testimony saying that the answers given were candid and honest and stating that “[Gonzales] has increased my confidence in his ability to do the job."

It seems fairly apparent that the Attorney General is lying through his teeth. Evidently he prefers to portray his ostensible incompetence as stemming from an improper discharge of neurons rather than a calculated corruption of fundamental constitutional guarantees—a logical stance to take—although it fails to account for the obvious relish he took from past assaults on our most sacred document. But however he wants to spin it, my perception of the guy is that while he may be corrupt and immoral, he certainly isn’t stupid. So he should be able to remember something as significant as discussions over the potentially volatile firing of eight attorneys that took place on at least three occasions—the most recent of which occurred on November 27th of last year. His alleged failure to do so should seriously damage his credibility with persons possessing even basic logical reasoning capabilities. How then, could president Bush claim that his confidence in the competence of the Attorney General has actually increased in the past week?

The only explanation that I can come up with is that President Bush’s logical reasoning capabilities have atrophied and gone dormant since he took office, an understandable side-effect commonly observed in those whose left frontal lobes are overworked with excessive cognitive dissonance. My theory, if it is valid, would explain a great deal: 1) Bush’s failure to effectively question the WMD evidence before the invasion of Iraq, 2) his refusal to admit that the so called “War on Terror” is actually increasing worldwide terrorism, 3) his inability to comprehend the economic damage the skyrocketing national debt will have on successive generations, and 4) his persistent support of the incompetent men he has placed in key government positions—be they Donald Rumsfeld, Michael Brown, or Alberto Gonzales.



Maintaining ignorance is a full-time job

“You’re fighting for Freedom.”
Says the proud father
to his son,
over the tapped phone line.

“Periods of Heating are natural occurrences.”
Says the bespectacled scientist
to the audience of
Fox News.

“They’re just Criminals and Addicts.”
Says the suburban housewife
to her bridge friends
in the gated community.

“You’re going to Hell.”
Says the christian mother
to her pregnant daughter,
confidant of her
moral superiority.

“They could Strike anywhere.”
Says the rural teacher,
peering fearfully through the schoolhouse window
at the field of corn

“They’re taking our Jobs.”
Says the overweight day trader
in first class,
to the tax accountant.
“These people need your Help.”
Says the b-rate celeb
in-between episodes of
Fear Factor,
to the couch potato
feasting on his
microwavable dinner.

“The Economy is strong.”
Says the president in a prime-time
through the radio of the
machinist-turned-night watchman.

“I can’t believe she was wearing
Says the distraught teenager,
on her cell phone with
her best friend.