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August 09, 2004

Two Questions:

1) Why is the Bush campaign requiring people to sign "a pledge to endorse President Bush" in order to enter campaign events?

2) Why do our "terror alerts" always seem to come within days of other news that could damage the Bush administration? Is there a pattern here?

UPDATE: See also:

Posted August 9, 2004 06:59 AM | election 2004 general politics

this is some scary stuff. they also raise the terror alert level when major peace protests are scheduled, and therefore can restrict the rights of protestors even more.

Posted by: monica at August 9, 2004 08:03 AM

The oath is obviously not all that binding - I can't imagine how they would legally be able to enforce it - but the fact that a Kerry supporter has to "lie" to see an elected official speak is troubling to say the least.

I wonder if you have to be able to drive as well.

"Neither man wanted to give driver's license numbers but did so. "I said why do you need that?" Ortiz y Pino said. A campaign worker, he said, replied: "Secret Service stuff."

The fact of the matter is, we know that there *IS* a threat, and some amount of vigilance is a good thing. I think the timeline helps demonstrate Moore's point that this administration seemingly exploits said fear for its own agenda.

I've grown so weary of politics and the media lately. I try hard to maintain an objective opinion, but it's very hard with misinformation and "false facts" coming from both sides. I am certainly skeptical of the current administration, but the half-truths from Michael Moore and the Kerry campaign don't help me trust them any more.

I fear that once again our Presidency is going to come down to a lesser of two evils. It has gotten to the point where you don't ask who is telling the truth, but who is lying less and about less important things.

Posted by: Tim Marman at August 9, 2004 11:11 AM

B/c this administration takes it propaganda cues from Nazi Germany, with a big dash of Orwellianism.

Posted by: justin at August 9, 2004 11:12 PM

You know, I didn't believe this when I saw it. But this was actually covered on the Daily Show about five days ago. One of the interesting things that they pointed out about the pledge is the following quote, which comes from an article in the Albuquerque Journal (I couldn't find the photo of it that USA Today ran)

"An endorsement form provided to the Journal by [Pamela] Random [a self-declared "unaffiliated voter" who tried to get tickets to the event] says: "I, (full name) ... do herby (sic) endorse George W. Bush for reelection of the United States." It later adds that, "In signing the above endorsement you are consenting to use and release of your name by Bush-Cheney as an endorser of President Bush."

It is just amazing the intellects a mental giant like the shrub can gather round him. But hey, you can start working on your fifteen minutes regardless so nobody really loses right? You can find the AJ article the above quote is from at this URL

As far as your second question goes, I want to point out this article that came over the Reuters news wire about a week ago. I can't find the link to it; it's lost somewhere in my inbox but I'll dig it up eventually. SO I post the text of the article below. This really helps to underline exactly the sort of political manipulation that the new era of terror "threats" is ushering in. Politics of fear, here we come!

Fear of Death Wins Minds and Votes, Study Finds

Thu Jul 29,11:12 AM ET

By Maggie Fox, Health and Science Correspondent

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Bush (news - web sites) may be tapping into solid human psychology when he invokes the Sept. 11 attacks while campaigning for the next election, U.S. researchers said on Thursday.

Talking about death can raise people's need for psychological security, the researchers report in studies to be published in the December issue of the journal Psychological Science and the September issue of the Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin.

"There are people all over who are claiming every time Bush is in trouble he generates fear by declaring an imminent threat," said Sheldon Solomon of Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs, New York, who worked on the study.

"We are saying this is psychologically useful."

Jeff Greenberg, a professor of psychology at the University of Arizona in Tucson, said generating fear was a common tactic.

"A lot of leaders gain their appeal by helping people feel they are heroic, particularly in a fight against evil," Greenberg said in a telephone interview from Hawaii, where he presented the findings to a meeting of the American Psychological Association.

"Sometimes that may be the right thing to do. But it is a psychological approach, particularly when death is close to peoples' consciousness."

For their first study, Solomon, Greenberg and colleagues asked students to think about either their own death or a neutral topic.

They then read the campaign statements of three hypothetical candidates for governor, each with a different leadership style. One was charismatic, said Solomon.

"That was a person who declared our country to be great and the people in it to be special," Solomon, who worked on the study, said in a telephone interview.

The others were task-oriented -- focusing on the job to be done -- or relationship-oriented -- with a "let's get it done together" style, Solomon said.


The students who thought about death were much more likely to choose the charismatic leader, they found. Only four out of about 100 chose that imaginary leader when thinking about exams, but 30 did after thinking about death.

Greenberg, Solomon and colleagues then decided to test the idea further and set up four separate studies at different universities.

"In one we asked half the people to think about the September 11 attacks, or to think about watching TV," Solomon said. "What we found was staggering."

When asked to think about television, the 100 or so volunteers did not approve of Bush or his policies in Iraq (news - web sites). But when asked to think about Sept. 11 first and then asked about their attitudes to Bush, another 100 volunteers had very different reactions.

"They had a very strong approval of President Bush and his policy in Iraq," Solomon said.

Solomon, a social psychologist who specializes in terrorism, said it was very rare for a person's opinions to differ so strongly depending on the situation.

Another study focused directly on Bush and his Democratic challenger, Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry (news - web sites).

The volunteers were aged from 18 into their 50s and described themselves as ranging from liberal to deeply conservative. No matter what a person's political conviction, thinking about death made them tend to favor Bush, Solomon said. Otherwise, they preferred Kerry.

"I think this should concern anybody," Solomon said. "If I was speaking lightly, I would say that people in their, quote, right minds, unquote, don't care much for President Bush and his policies in Iraq."

He wants voters to be aware of psychological pressures and how they are used.

"If people are aware that thinking about death makes them act differently, then they don't act differently," Solomon said. Solomon says he personally opposes Bush but describes himself as a political independent who could vote Republican.

Posted by: Famous P. at August 9, 2004 11:24 PM

Exactly! What a disturbing article. It's here, by the way.

I had a conversation yesterday w/someone I work w/and I tried to explain that Bush is manipulating fear to his advantage. She wasn't believing me at first. She kept asking why it can't go both ways; why is Bush associated w/security and not Kerry? Why can't Kerry step up every time there's a terror alert and convince people that he will keep people safer than Bush will? That study says it all: People associate Bush w/Sept. 11, and there's nothing rational about it. You mention Sept. 11 and people have a gut reaction, remembering the unity they felt w/the President, their neighbors, the world. That unity lasted a few days, a week, but it etched something deeply in most people's heads, some sort of positive feeling for Bush as a palliative for fear. People wanted so badly to believe that Bush would keep them safe, regardless of whether there was any evidence that he would. Now it's all subsconscious; that desire for safety and security is associated w/Bush so people are like Pavlov's dogs -- you say "Sept. 11" and they think "I want Pres. Bush to keep me safe." And the more afraid you make people, the less rational and able to get any critical distance on this whole process they're going to be.

Three cheeers for the politics of fear.

Posted by: ambimb at August 10, 2004 06:02 AM

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