The Selfish Text: The Bible and Memetics

Hugh S. Pyper

My tentative suggestion is that the bible instils a meme in its readers which aligns its own survival with that of the reader and his or her community. 'Your survival depends on mine' is the message that the bible gives. If the primary evolutionary drive is for survival, then a virus or a meme that 'persuades' its host that it is necessary to the host's own survival and therefore conveys a reproductive advantage will have an instant welcome into the replicatory machine. The virus becomes a symbiont, an organism which co-operates to mutual benefit with its host, rather than a parasite.
The Bible also reinforces the memes of family and community, surrounding the new reader with carriers with whom the reader has personal relationships. The host must carry the biblical meme, because the family of the host carries the meme. "Your survival depends on mine, and mine on yours."

Rumsfeld Dumps The Whole Mess Into Iraq's Lap


It's the Iraqis themselves who will restore security to their country, says Rumsfeld. Doesn't he realize that's what they've been doing?

Zinni Blasts Bush: Is Vietnam Happening Again?

Ex-Envoy Criticizes Bush's Postwar Policy (

Also from the Post: Powell and Joint Chiefs Nudged Bush Toward UN

Now the picture is coming clear:

While the administration's plan to go to the Security Council surfaced publicly only in recent days, the seeds of the effort can be found in a trip by Gen. Richard B. Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs. While Myers was in the area, he had a 90-minute private session in Qatar on July 27 with Gen. John Abizaid, the new chief of the U.S. Central Command and the top commander in Iraq, who pressed him to accelerate efforts to bring in more international force.

According to one senior defense official, who spoke on the condition that he not be quoted by name, Myers came home determined "to get some international troops in here to do things international troops are good at doing -- de-mining, peacekeeping." Myers was convinced international peacekeeping forces were necessary to free U.S. forces to go on the offensive against remnants of Saddam Hussein's Baathist Party.
And so we find ourselves with a Presidential speech tomorrow night, at this "crucial moment" in the war on terrorism. Bush's leadership seems to consist of getting in front of the people he's leading.

Rush, Newspeak, and Fascism: An exegesis


While I establish early in the essay that this is an attempt at a "scholarly" discussion of fascism, I should however clarify that I am in fact merely a journalist, not a scholar, nor do I pretend to be one. The following essay is more in the way of a journalistic survey of the academic literature regarding fascism, and an attempt at a kind of lay analysis of the literature's contents as it relates to the current political context. However, none of the ideas regarding the core of fascism, nor its many accompanying traits, are my own. "Rush" is mostly drawn from a body of scholarly work on fascism that's broadly accepted as the important texts on the subject, and I'll urge anyone interested in examining the matter seriously to read them. There's a bibliography at the end.

The core of my interest in fascism is closely connected to my work in trying to understand the motivations of right-wing extremists, because my experience was that in most regards many of these folks were seemingly ordinary people. And I was furthermore intrigued by the historical phenomenon of the Holocaust, particularly the problem of how a nation full ordinary people could allow such a monstrosity to happen. I'm interested in fascism as a real-world phenomenon and not an abstract and distant concept.

As such, I'm hoping this essay if nothing else helps advance a wider understanding of fascism in the general public, because I've come to understand that this awareness is essential if we are to combat it.

Meacher on Bush Hegemony: This war on terrorism is "political myth"

Guardian Online

The catalogue of evidence does, however, fall into place when set against the PNAC blueprint. From this it seems that the so-called "war on terrorism" is being used largely as bogus cover for achieving wider US strategic geopolitical objectives. Indeed Tony Blair himself hinted at this when he said to the Commons liaison committee: "To be truthful about it, there was no way we could have got the public consent to have suddenly launched a campaign on Afghanistan but for what happened on September 11" (Times, July 17 2002). Similarly Rumsfeld was so determined to obtain a rationale for an attack on Iraq that on 10 separate occasions he asked the CIA to find evidence linking Iraq to 9/11; the CIA repeatedly came back empty-handed (Time Magazine, May 13 2002).

In fact, 9/11 offered an extremely convenient pretext to put the PNAC plan into action. The evidence again is quite clear that plans for military action against Afghanistan and Iraq were in hand well before 9/11. A report prepared for the US government from the Baker Institute of Public Policy stated in April 2001 that "the US remains a prisoner of its energy dilemma. Iraq remains a destabilising influence to... the flow of oil to international markets from the Middle East". Submitted to Vice-President Cheney's energy task group, the report recommended that because this was an unacceptable risk to the US, "military intervention" was necessary (Sunday Herald, October 6 2002).

Bush Speech on Iraq Sunday Night: Are You Ready for Some Football?


We are in, as Scott McClellan says, "a critical moment in the war on terrorism." Critical for the Bush Administration, at least. They're about to lose their ability to wage this war, because We the People are kicking them out of office. Hence, the speech.

Tom Toles, thanks to No More Mister Nice Blog.

According to my TV Guide, the speech will be given right before the last games of NFL: Week One. Will the games be held so the public can hear the President? ESPN has the Raiders vs. the Titans, and ABC has the Bucs and the Eagles at 9:00. This couldn't have anything to do with Bush getting the game ball, could it? I wonder what Rush will have to say?

Evidently, Karl Rove sees the NFL audience as its primary market for the next Bush presidency. Hmmmmm. I'm thinking of a word, I'm thinking of a word...boycott?

Smirking Chimp Thread: Is Religion A Form of Madness?

The Smirking Chimp

UK psychologist analyzes Bush: authoritarian personality, caged rebel

And it's pretty persuasive.

As Frum put it: "Id-control is the basis of Bush's presidency but Bush is a man of fierce anger." That anger now rules the world.
And here's where the Smirk comes from. Bush is working out his sui generis project, exorcising his demons by projecting them onto his enemies and thrashing them with the full force of the American military. He smirks because he has escaped the wrath he is dispensing.

So George, how do you feel about your mom and dad?

Never forget the women of the ninth floor.

As you sit back in your lawn chair this Labor Day, enjoying a brew, watching the kids play in the pool, take a minute and remember those who died in the Triangle Factory fire. Raise a glass to these women who died needlessly, and whose death touched off labor reform that still impacts you today.

Then count your blessings.


The History of Labor Day

US Department of Labor

Labor Day: How it Came About; What it Means

"Labor Day differs in every essential way from the other holidays of the year in any country," said Samuel Gompers, founder and longtime president of the American Federation of Labor. "All other holidays are in a more or less degree connected with conflicts and battles of man's prowess over man, of strife and discord for greed and power, of glories achieved by one nation over another. Labor devoted to no man, living or dead, to no sect, race, or nation."

Labor Day, the first Monday in September, is a creation of the labor movement and is dedicated to the social and economic achievements of American workers. It constitutes a yearly national tribute to the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of our country.

Founder of Labor Day

More than 100 years after the first Labor Day observance, there is still some doubt as to who first proposed the holiday for workers.

Some records show that Peter J. McGuire, general secretary of the Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners and a cofounder of the American Federation of Labor, was first in suggesting a day to honor those "who from rude nature have delved and carved all the grandeur we behold."

But Peter McGuire's place in Labor Day history has not gone unchallenged. Many believe that Matthew Maguire, a machinist, not Peter McGuire, founded the holiday. Recent research seems to support the contention that Matthew Maguire, later the secretary of Local 344 of the International Association of Machinists in Paterson, N.J., proposed the holiday in 1882 while serving as secretary of the Central Labor Union in New York. What is clear is that the Central Labor Union adopted a Labor Day proposal and appointed a committee to plan a demonstration and picnic.

The First Labor Day

The first Labor Day holiday was celebrated on Tuesday, September 5, 1882, in New York City, in accordance with the plans of the Central Labor Union. The Central Labor Union held its second Labor Day holiday just a year later, on September 5, 1883.

In 1884 the first Monday in September was selected as the holiday, as originally proposed, and the Central Labor Union urged similar organizations in other cities to follow the example of New York and celebrate a "workingmen's holiday" on that date. The idea spread with the growth of labor organizations, and in 1885 Labor Day was celebrated in many industrial centers of the country.

Labor Day Legislation

Through the years the nation gave increasing emphasis to Labor Day. The first governmental recognition came through municipal ordinances passed during 1885 and 1886. From them developed the movement to secure state legislation. The first state bill was introduced into the New York legislature, but the first to become law was passed by Oregon on February 21, 1887. During the year four more states — Colorado, Massachusetts, New Jersey, and New York — created the Labor Day holiday by legislative enactment. By the end of the decade Connecticut, Nebraska, and Pennsylvania had followed suit. By 1894, 23 other states had adopted the holiday in honor of workers, and on June 28 of that year, Congress passed an act making the first Monday in September of each year a legal holiday in the District of Columbia and the territories.

A Nationwide Holiday

The form that the observance and celebration of Labor Day should take were outlined in the first proposal of the holiday — a street parade to exhibit to the public "the strength and esprit de corps of the trade and labor organizations" of the community, followed by a festival for the recreation and amusement of the workers and their families. This became the pattern for the celebrations of Labor Day. Speeches by prominent men and women were introduced later, as more emphasis was placed upon the economic and civic significance of the holiday. Still later, by a resolution of the American Federation of Labor convention of 1909, the Sunday preceding Labor Day was adopted as Labor Sunday and dedicated to the spiritual and educational aspects of the labor movement.

The character of the Labor Day celebration has undergone a change in recent years, especially in large industrial centers where mass displays and huge parades have proved a problem. This change, however, is more a shift in emphasis and medium of expression. Labor Day addresses by leading union officials, industrialists, educators, clerics and government officials are given wide coverage in newspapers, radio, and television.

The vital force of labor added materially to the highest standard of living and the greatest production the world has ever known and has brought us closer to the realization of our traditional ideals of economic and political democracy. It is appropriate, therefore, that the nation pay tribute on Labor Day to the creator of so much of the nation's strength, freedom, and leadership — the American worker.

The Union Difference

AFL-CIO Fact Sheets

Labor Creates All Wealth

Eugene V. Debs

WalMart and Labor Day

Two great tastes that go great together? Not.

Just as Ford, GM and the UAW once drove up wages for workers who were nowhere near auto factories, so Wal-Mart drives down wages for workers who never set foot there. Controlling as it does so much of the low-end retail market, Wal-Mart has, with great success, pressured suppliers to cut their labor costs. No other American company has done as much to destroy what's left of the U.S. clothing and textile industry or been so loyal a friend to the dankest sweatshops of the developing world. And unless American unions can find the political leverage to block Wal-Mart's expansion into non-southern metropolitan areas, the company poses a huge threat to the million or so unionized clerks who work at the nation's major supermarket chains.
Boycott WalMart, Labor Day and Every Day.

TAP: Web Feature: Labor Lost. by Harold Meyerson. August 28, 2003.

Roll Call: Janklow Charged With Manslaughter; Political Observers Anticipate His Resignation

The seat is safe with Republican Mike Rounds in the governor's seat.

Roll Call

The Saudi-Pakastani-Bin Laden Triangle Confessions of a Terrorist -- Sep. 08, 2003

Posner elaborates in startling detail how U.S. interrogators used drugs—an unnamed "quick-on, quick-off" painkiller and Sodium Pentothal, the old movie truth serum—in a chemical version of reward and punishment to make Zubaydah talk. When questioning stalled, according to Posner, cia men flew Zubaydah to an Afghan complex fitted out as a fake Saudi jail chamber, where "two Arab-Americans, now with Special Forces," pretending to be Saudi inquisitors, used drugs and threats to scare him into more confessions.

Yet when Zubaydah was confronted by the false Saudis, writes Posner, "his reaction was not fear, but utter relief." Happy to see them, he reeled off telephone numbers for a senior member of the royal family who would, said Zubaydah, "tell you what to do." The man at the other end would be Prince Ahmed bin Salman bin Abdul Aziz, a Westernized nephew of King Fahd's and a publisher better known as a racehorse  owner. His horse War Emblem won the Kentucky Derby in 2002. To the amazement of the U.S., the numbers proved valid. When the fake inquisitors accused Zubaydah of lying, he responded with a 10-minute monologue laying out the Saudi-Pakistani-bin Laden triangle.
It's time for a new phrase - Revelations of Mass Destruction (RMD). This certainly qualifies.

Liberal Oasis on Managerial Flexibility

I Got Your "Managerial Flexibility" Right Here

Nice one, LO.

Fool on Parade: Ann Coulter Has a Quagmire for Sale

I know, I know, it's like shooting fish in a barrel. This week, Ann mocks liberals for claiming Iraq is a quagmire.

Yes, perhaps there are important textural differences between secular Saddam loyalists and Islamic crazies – though it's a little odd to be lectured on nuance from people who can grasp no difference whatsoever between Bill O'Reilly and Jesse Helms. But as George Bush said: You are with the terrorists or you are with America. Now we're getting a pretty clear picture of who is with the terrorists. As George Patton said, I like when the enemy shoots at me; then I know where the bastards are and can kill them.
"Nuance" doesn't begin to cover the enormous religious and political differences between Saddam's loyalists and "Islamic crazies." And can you believe this paragraph comes from someone who can't distinguish between Howard Dean and Dennis Kucinich?

Yes, that's another "kill the liberals" backhand in there.
The Clinton approach was working great, if you don't count the first bombing of the World Trade Center, the bombing of our Air Force housing complex in Saudi Arabia, the bombing of our embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, the bombing of the USS Cole and, finally, the greatest terrorist attack in the history of the world right here on U.S. soil on Sept. 11, 2001.
Ann's got this Clinton hatred thing turned up to eleven, doesn't she? Maybe we can start blaming Clinton for things that happened before he was president, as well as after. This must be Ann's clever way of getting us to drop the investigation into Bush's incompetence and negligence that resulted in such a specatular success for Al Qaeda terrorists on 9/11: don't blame Bush for 9/11, and we won't blame Clinton for all the terrorist attacks that happened on his watch. Fat chance, sister. I'd put a dossier of BushCo idiocy up against one of Clinton's any day of the week.

Googling "canisters of poison gas Saddam" brings up this article: a conservative mocking Clinton during their "wag the dog" memethon:
Finally, just what is a "weapon of mass destruction," anyway? Was the bow and arrow considered such a weapon when it was introduced? No doubt about it, a machine gun is surely a weapon of mass destruction. Atomic bombs? Definitely weapons of mass destruction, but almost everybody has them. Chemical agents? Nasty, and capable of destroying large numbers of people, but are the Iraqis the only ones with them? Poison gases were used in the First World War, but if they had proved an unqualified success, they would have been used in later conflicts, but were not. 

It's all very well to release poison gas into the atmosphere -- until the wind shifts. Using such gases resembles dropping bombs from a hot air balloon. A bizarre mixture of high-tech and no tech at all. 

There is more to this gulf war business than meets the nose. 

Perhaps, if the right questions were asked of the right people, we might discover what is behind this apparently insane desire to kill Iraqis because they won't show us where they've hidden their weapons--today. Can things in this country have gotten so bad that the president is agitating for foreign wars to divert attention from his own personal problems?
The arguments that conservatives used against Clinton for attacking Iraq are now the ones they accuse liberals of holding. The quagmire of Saddam excuses is one created by them, and now they're selling it to liberals in their Clinton hatred clearance sale? I don't know of anyone who mourns the death of Udai and Qusai for any other reason than the loss of vital intelligence and a war crimes trial at the Hague. That potential testimony may be why they had to die, but this is not the problem of liberals.

If it ricochets like a quagmire, and it escalates like a quagmire, it's a quagmire, Ann. The Iraqis don't want us there because they see through the motivations of our president and his advisers. There's a awful lot of oil protecting and not enough people protecting. Your boy in the White House screwed up national security, and used his mess to go after the motherlode for his campaign contributors. But then again, you're running with the crowd that impeaches real presidents. What do you know?

Oh, to televise riverbend and Ann in the same room for five minutes!

Ann Coulter: Liberal arguments: Still a quagmire

Paul Hein: Reasons Unclear for War on Saddam

Conservative Caucus: Wag the Dog? U.S. Policy on Iraq