Norse Gods


Tell Me: What Happened During Clinton's Visit to Friendly Norway?

If we insist that public life be reserved for those whose personal history is pristine, we are not going to get paragons of virtue running our affairs.
We will get the very rich, who contract out the messy things in life; the very dull, who have nothing to hide and nothing to show;
and the very devious, expert at covering their tracks and ambitious enough to risk their discovery.

- Charles Krauthammer

by Alex Vardamis

Norway is a country in which the king skis on public trails and the prime minister rides the bus to work.  Citizens pride themselves on an unpretentious lifestyle.  The imperial nature of the American delegation shocked them.

The president arrived with an entourage of more than 700 courtiers and sundry retainers who appropriated an entire hotel in downtown Oslo.  The Radisson SAS Plaza, with its 674 rooms, became Fortress America.

Clinton was ensconced in the "Royal Suite," consisting of three bedrooms, each with fireplace, painted silk curtains and antiques, and three baths with gold fixtures and Jacuzzis.  Security, in this, the most orderly capital in Europe, became a formidable challenge.  Manhole covers were sealed.  Trash containers were removed.  Hundreds of two-ton concrete barriers blocked potential car bombs.

Highway ramps into Oslo were barricaded.  Portions of the main street, Karl Johans Gate, were declared off limits.  Commercial transaction ground to a halt.  Downtown stores, restaurants and kiosks lost millions.  Yet, a variety of groups, including Save the Children and Amnesty International, loudly condemned America's use of the death penalty and "inhumane criminal punishment of juveniles."

One demonstration turned ugly.  Several hundred protesters listened to speeches by members of various international socialist organisations, the Palestinian Action Committee and supporters of Mumia Abu-Jamal, now on death row in Pennsylvania.

Many wore Clinton masks and black capes, and carried scythes to portray the President of the United States as the grim reaper.  They burned Clinton in effigy.  In defiance of police orders, they attempted to storm his hotel.  Driven back, they were dispersed toward the Royal Palace, the site of that evening's festivities.

Police with attack dogs attempted to head off the mob.  Car windows were smashed.  Protesters threw bricks.

Riot police, using truncheons and tear gas, advanced, some on horseback, others behind shields.  After nearly two hours of battle, activists, many with blood streaming down their faces, retreated into the working class district of East Oslo.  The police arrested some 82 demonstrators, including Aslak Sira Myhre, the leader of the Radical Left Party.

That is what happened during Clinton's visit to friendly Norway.

Source: Anderson Valley Advertiser 5 January 2000


Hillary-ous Rodham Clinton

What's so funny?

Source: The Dominion Friday 15 December 2000


Funny Family

Source: Mike Thetler/Reuters

Hitting the High Notes

Show of Hands: The Eyes Have It

A Shocker: Partisan Thought Is Unconscious

by Benedict Carey

Liberals and conservatives can become equally bug-eyed and irrational when talking politics, especially when they are on the defensive.

Using MRI scanners, neuroscientists have now tracked what happens in the politically partisan brain when it tries to digest damning facts about favoured candidates or criticisms of them.  The process is almost entirely emotional and unconscious, the researchers report, and there are flares of activity in the brain's pleasure centres when unwelcome information is being rejected.  "Everything we know about cognition suggests that, when faced with a contradiction, we use the rational regions of our brain to think about it, but that was not the case here," said Dr Drew Westen, a psychologist at Emory and lead author of the study, to be presented at meetings of the Society for Personality and Social Psychology in Palm Springs, California.  The results are the latest from brain imaging studies that provide a neural explanation for internal states, like infatuation or ambivalence, and a graphic trace of the brain's activity.

In 2004, the researchers recruited 30 adult men who described themselves as committed Republicans or Democrats.  The men, half of them supporters of President Bush and the other half backers of Senator John Kerry, earned $50 to sit in an MRI machine and consider several statements in quick succession.  The first was a quote attributed to one of the two candidates: either a remark by Mr Bush in support of Kenneth L Lay, the former Enron chief, before he was indicted, or a statement by Mr Kerry that social aecurity should be overhauled.  Moments later, the participants read a remark that showed the candidate reversing his position.  The quotes were doctored for maximum effect but presented as factual.

The Republicans in the study judged Mr Kerry as harshly as the Democrats judged Mr Bush.  But each group let its own candidate off the hook.

After the participants read the contradictory comment, the researchers measured increased activity in several areas of the brain.  They included a region involved in regulating negative emotions and another called the cingulate, which activates when the brain makes judgments about forgiveness, among other things.  Also, a spike appeared in several areas known to be active when people feel relieved or rewarded.  The "cold reasoning" regions of the cortex were relatively quiet.

Researchers have long known that political decisions are strongly influenced by unconscious emotional reactions, a fact routinely exploited by campaign consultants and advertisers.  But the new research suggests that for partisans, political thinking is often predominantly emotional.  It is possible to override these biases, Dr Westen said, "but you have to engage in ruthless self reflection, to say, 'All right, I know what I want to believe, but I have to be honest.'"  He added, "It speaks to the character of the discourse that this quality is rarely talked about in politics."

Source: 24 January 2006

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