Tag Archives: current events

Ready For Willard?

Luckovich - Look bad h/t Mike Luckovich

Willard ‘mittens’ Romney really really really really wants to be the next President. As his wife said, “It’s Mitt’s turn.”

It may seem to some that the existence of an uber-stiff character such as Willard Romney is more the stuff of literature rather than real life. It seems to be likewise the case with the entirety of Romney’s moment; his having arrived at this juncture to represent, literally the 1%. There are a bunch of heightened contradictions in the collision of Randian one-percenters, Tea Party patriots, and, the audible gasping of the legions of rural and evangelical middle-aged male white tribesmen. Yet, Romney seems to me to be an implausible unitary figure, except here he is mantle-in-hand, and, what do I know?

As I’ve mentioned before, for me and my vote, I will likely always pull the lever on a plutocrat from the left side.

Thumbs Up h/t Mike Luckovich

Friends have recoiled when I suggest that our next President, unfortunately, will be named Willard. (My own guess is that Eric Cantor will be the veep.) The reason for this estimate is not the mood of the country, the high unemployment rate, or, exhaustion with gridlock. It’s simply that the PAC’s aligned with Romney will spend and do whatever it takes to support the message that Barack Obama will completely destroy the country in a second term. The daffy Bro Koch plutocrats and their ilk will spend Obama’s forces into the ground.

Romeny’s campaign will pivot. This fear-oriented campaign will cost right wing donors upward of $2 billion dollars. In light of this sense of mine, that Romney will also say almost anything to win, that his mendacity is epic, and that the consequence of his election is surely to be a regional war in the mid-east, my interest in his complicated personality, fifties-style technocratic outlook, and, his ripe messianic Mormonism, wanes quite a bit. Yup, he strikes me as a very fascinating character when seen through the psychological lens–so what?

Bonus, enough Mormon doctrine to allow anybody with an interest in comparative religion to be able to recognize connective threads between statements of doctrine here with other mass varieties of traditionalist fundamentalism. Oh, you didn’t already know prayer cures sexual deviancy?

Of course, on the Mormon account, we’re all Mormons–whether or not we recognize the revealed wisdom of Smith and Angel Moroni.

The following address was given by Bishop Keith B. McMullin at the 20th annual Evergreen International Conference held in Salt Lake City, Saturday, September 18, 2010

Bishop Keith B. McMullin
Second Counselor in the Presiding Bishopric

There is no more highly charged topic on the public stage today than the one dealing with same-gender attraction. Advocacy groups, politicians, and voices from the fields of law, science and religion trumpet their respective views with great fervor. The media fans each spark of controversy into hotly contested debate. Amid this contest of opinions, several things become apparent.

First, far less is known about the causes of same-gender attraction than is claimed to be known. Preliminary findings are touted as proven facts while retractions or contradicting evidence about the same issue receive little, if any, attention. The result is an abundance of untruth and distortions worthy of Isaiah’s warning:

“Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter! Woe unto them that are wise in their own eyes, and prudent in their own sight! . . . [Who] justify the wicked for reward, and take away the righteousness of the righteous from him! . . . They have cast away the law of the Lord of hosts, and despised the word of the Holy One of Israel”(Isaiah 5:20–21, 23, 24; see also 2 Nephi 15:18–24).

Second, the personal well-being of those struggling with same-gender attraction often declines with each so-called public victory for same-sex attraction. Increased public acceptance of same-sex behavior inevitably leads to a diminution of personal, righteous behavior. When sophistry prevails, the strait and narrow path which leads to eternal life is obscured. Hence the Savior’s warning: “Enter ye in at the strait gate; . . .Beware of false prophets, [who] come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves” (Matthew 7:13, 15; see also 3 Nephi 14:13, 15).

Third, in the chasm between man’s ways and God’s laws regarding same-gender issues, there stand earnest souls yearning for understanding and solutions to what for them is a moral conundrum. Initiatives to legitimize same-sex attraction deepen their moral conundrum. For example, the cultural adaptations to same-gender marriage will, in time, make the prospect of eternal marriage and family more difficult to attain. Wide acceptance of same-sex attraction will inevitably foster greater deviance from God’s laws. These moral disparities remind us again of the Lord’s words:

“My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts” (Isaiah 55:8–9; see also verses 10–11).
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…didn’t want the women’s vote anyway

Well, the GOP didn’t want many women’s votes. This hurt the GOP in swing states several months ago. It will be interesting to see how the longstanding triumvirate of abstinence/anti-abortion/subservience to hubby, (obviously a mainly evangelical position,) is given new ideological life in the campaign.


Martha in the Middle

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“He’ll Do That Because He’s A Republican”

What of one of Stewart’s implications, not overtly given here, in this otherwise pointed critique of expected hypocrisy? Are Romney’s concrete beliefs best left completely off the table? If so, are such beliefsbest left off as a matter of respect for which salutary principle?

See: Pennies from heaven: How Mormon economics shape the G.O.P; Chris Lehmann; Harper’s Magazine; October 2011.

Consider the following:

(Interestingly, Mormonism may be the best example of a contemporary living religion–where its doctrines are subject to active revision through the workings of its internal political economy.)

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Santorum In the Tubes

What happens sometimes is start a post and then don’t wrap it up and then its time ends up having gone by. Kaput. So it was with a post on Rich Santorum. He interested me because of his arch way of hiding under the cloak of his practiced–and daffy–“Catholic-like” traditionalism that he was actually a typical “picker and chooser”. Besides, my now buried riff gave me an opportunity to provide trenchant observations about policing bedrooms, and, rhyme Herman Caine with Maratain.

Still, I work in, today, my collection of jpegs of hippie man light switches. These were also in the old post.

Hippie Man Light Switch

Hippie Man Light Switch

Hippie Man Light Switch

Hippie Man Light Switch

Hippie Man Light Switch

Hippie Man Light Switch

Sense of Humor

h/t to Thinking Outside the Agora

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Mitt And the Muddle

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Mitt Romney

There’s so much I could blather on about the delicious presidential battle shaping up between old school neo-liberal plutocrats of the centerist left vs “personal responsibility” Ayn Randian tea party plutocrats. Once again, as I mostly rediscover every four years, I find myself leaning on Melanie Klein, and so I very much prefer the mature depressive as against the volatile dynamics of the paranoid schizoid.

Which is to say: Obama’s Quixotic aspiration to realize a bi-partisan governing muddle is far superior than Mitt’s hope to galvanize the hating shards of resentful anti-cosmopolitan aging boys, and, crony ‘paper economy’ capitalists.

I do grant that Mitt Romney is a fascinating political figure as a matter of his elevated, nubby peculiarities. He is the oddest major party nominee in my adult political experience of forty years. But, I’ll save arm chair amateur psychoanalysis for a later presentation. Nevertheless, that Republican have nominated an actual plutocrat four years after the speculators, rent seekers and Randian nihilistas brought down the economy is both impressive and precious–all at once.

I Am A Corporation

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If Men Could Get Preggers

Santorum and Bishop

It seems to me the church with an unresolved child rape problem might be more circumspect about being so vocal about getting the first amendment wrong.

Meanwhile, deep in space, in another galaxy, on another planet, evolution has worked to successfully eliminate men and monotheism altogether.

Unisex utopia

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It’s Not Like There Haven’t Been Warnings

There’s a confusion about ‘smarts.’ There’s nothing about the skill set required to pilot an aircraft which makes ignorance ‘elsewhere’ impossible. Similarly, that Michelle Backmann was a tax attorney doesn’t verify her advanced mental capabilities across the spectrum, especially including that of elementary mathematics. The string of appalling, jaw-dropping assertions, each flavored by intense stupidity, is–some would say–simply par for the course of the campaign year.

How is it that the Grand Old Party can align itself with what is termed ‘Conservatism’ and, at the same time, not understand that proudly showcasing abject stupidity is itself not a conservative value in any way, shape or form? The supposedly normative claim made by conservatives–at the higher end of the cognitive spectrum–is: that conservatism’s foundationalism enjoins wise observer and political actor to join sideways-looking pessimism and upward-looking faith in the most realistic, humbling, prudently liberal, and intelligent understanding, about human nature and human society. It is taken as gospel truth, then, that the conservative mentality and intellect is by definition superior to the alternative or opposing instances.

They Think You're Stupid

Irony is alive and well

But isn’t this claim obviously and riotously undermined by the current flag-bearing exemplars of what really cannot count as thoughtful fronting of conservative values/principles because each in different ways is so remarkably ignorant?


A friend of mine hadn’t seen Bad Lip Reading’s dadaesque work. Here are my three favorites.

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The Jobs of a Lifetime

Steve Jobs & the Mac Plus

So we went to Atari and said, `Hey, we’ve got this amazing thing, even built with some of your parts, and what do you think about funding us? Or we’ll give it to you. We just want to do it. Pay our salary, we’ll come work for you.’ And they said, `No.’ So then we went to Hewlett-Packard, and they said, `Hey, we don’t need you. You haven’t got through college yet.’ Steve Jobs

My friend Pilch laid an original Macintosh on me in 1985. He had received the cube-shaped computer as a gift from his employer, Burroughs, taken it out of its box, played around with it, and then, upon giving it to me, pronounced it “a toy.”

I used my freebee Macintosh for seven years. In 1988 I met its designer, Jerry Manock. He was a customer of the high-end seating company I worked at. He tried to convince my boss to junk the office IBM PC. No dice. The only benefit from this episode was that I learned MS-DOS. I could always go home to my computer, the one you could just turn on and get to work/play.

Over the years I went back and forth this way, between the office PC and the home Mac. (Through the nineties I also kept up with Apple’s technology by using the computer center at Middlebury College stocked with up-to-date machines.) I cannot imagine anybody being in this situation and not favoring the easier-to-use Mac computer.

Still, ‘whatever floats your boat’ was my attitude. After returning to Cleveland, I used hand-me-down Macs supplied by mom, Macintosh Plus, LC, LC III; my partner’s PPC 638; a Powerbook 140 given to me by a friend. Finally, in 1998 I bought my first brand new Apple computer, a G3. My first recording was produced on it in 2000-2001. Next, in 2003, came a refurbished Mirrored Drawers dual-boot PPC. It was the platform for my second recording, and my first OSX machine. I used it until I bought my first Macbook in late 2009.

That Macbook died a horrid death last year when I plugged its charger into a shorted house circuit. Yet, I ran out and picked up a MacBook Pro laptop, upon which i am typing this recollection.

Except for the MacBook I slaughtered, and the G3 that I scavenged for drives, all my legacy computers remain in my personal Apple Museum, and, presumably each one of the six could be started up tomorrow.

I will always associate Steve Jobs with Apple Computers rather than with the revolutionary media appliances and vertical industries he helped bring forth. When he returned to Apple in 1997, he, soon enough, saved the company, and, in effect, saved it from itself. Given this personal association, the contemporary 12 core Mac Pro at $5,000, draws the line all the way back to the original Macintosh, with its 128k of memory, and 400k floppy discs.

Yet, revolutionizing computing while sitting won’t be the capstone on his legacy.

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Bernie Gets It

Ok, got your attention…

…and he always has.

His twitter stream His history-making fillibuster (CSPAN search result) from December 10. Bernie Sanders

If there is a poor man among your brothers in any of the towns of the land that the LORD your God is giving you, do not be hardhearted or tightfisted toward your poor brother. There will always be poor people in the land. Therefore I command you to be openhanded toward your brothers and toward the poor and needy in your land. (Deuteronomy 15:7, 11)

Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke? Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter– when you see the naked, to clothe him, and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood? …and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, then your light will rise in the darkness, and your night will become like the noonday. (Isaiah 58:6-7;10)

Next, the Biblical text extolling favoring the wealthy over the poor:


Barry Deutsch : The 24 Types of Libertarian

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United We Stand, So, Bend Over

The Orange Man announces another fatuous documentation–in a long line of such productions–of things the Republican Party will never, ever, manage to do. I’m not sure it would be politically wise for them to execute any of their plans. For decades, they’ve gotten a lot of mileage out of not walking their talk, yet, at the same time attaching themselves as benefactors in the wake of the disgruntlement which comes from their constituencies not ever having their dreams come true.

I might except from this collection the Republican’s core constituency: the so-called country club, chamber of commerce, club for growth, Republicans. The GOP has worked trickle down economics so as to realize its actual goal: to grab the middle class by the ankles, invert each member, and vigorously shake so the smolians come trickling out. Still, even though the concentration of wealth has accelerated viciously over 30 years, I can’t call the GOP maestros of plutonomy in the aftermath of their latest experiment. After all, the GOP helped wipe out several trillion dollars of wealth, including a big chunk of ‘plutonomical’ wealth, over the last three years.

Anyway, their magic wand, if they had one, would presumably be waved to accomplish longstanding objectives. First, end by privatizing all elements of what the Tea Party brethren call the nanny state: social security, Medicare, Medicaid, student loans, the Departments of Education, Health and Human Services, the new health care laws, TARP, Fannie and Freddie, EPA, and, so much more! I’m not sure if this is to include farm and trade subsidies, and the SBA, but both are elements of the nanny state. To this prescription, (named years ago, ‘drowning the government in a bath tub,’) other stuff needs to be quickly terminated. All the regulatory bureaucracies get bounced out of C town. I’m not sure what the Tea Party GOP’s attitude is toward subsidies for scientific research, but let’s face it, they’re sucking at the Federal teat too. And, they’re probably atheists!

Then there is the matter of what counts for fairness in the tax code. There’s a mountain of subsidies built into the current code. Why not end each and every one? And then, implement a one size fits all consumption tax which would finally enshrine the principle: no penalty, (thus no demerit,) for achievement.

So much purported ill is cured in all this, I indulge myself by turning to fix what’s wrong with the two year old attitude toward the Constitution. Why not elevate nullification via the enumerated powers and provide a good state’s rights sanction against any eruptions of innovation? Other fixes would probably have to be deferred because you’d need a Constitutional convention to purge the fine old founding document of its mistakes, and this would have to happen before the economic treatment. But, the economic treatment carries with it an adjustment period and you can’t be sure the mood of the sovereign citizens would be receptive during this period of adjustment. I guess the restoration will have to wait.

Social issues aren’t the toughest to solve. Abortion, of course, is ended as soon as possible. And the queer menace will have to be vanquished on a state-by-state basis. Masturbation, I’m not so sure about it. (Personally, I’m sure about it, but, whatever.) Evolution? Heck, its for suckers anyway. As for immigration, you just toss ’em all out on their keister. Enforce the law–that’s what laws are for. As Eric Cantor said about the first amendment, ‘Come on!.” There’s not much one can do about the pesky amendment itself. Still, it’s time to re-enshrine the Judeo-Christian values the various deist and Unitarian founders intended to be absolutely front-and-center in the entire democratic experiment.

Foreign policy is simple. The GOP just has to find its inner Curt LeMay. Turn Iran into a glass parking lot. Go after Islam in-country using RICO. Build the star wars stations wherever necessary. And, by all means, send the UN to Denmark where it belongs.

The Daily Show With Jon Stewart Mon – Thurs 11p / 10c
Postcards From the Pledge
Daily Show Full Episodes Political Humor Tea Party

Once all of this has been realized, a good tag line will be needed for the history books. I think its main bent has to amplify how it came about that main street triumphed over the pointy headed secular humanist ivy league jazz-loving social engineering tax-and-spend atheistic tree-hugging hollywood beholden Darwin worshipping green community organizing sodomy loving marxist coloured Volvo ensconced elites.

I’m working on it.

My main point is if you ask the Grand Old White Tea Party’s best and brightest what’s required, there can’t be any doubt about how overmatched those progressive elites in fact are; and, let’s face it, for their to be an American exceptionalism, there has to be exceptional Americans.

The choice is obvious.

A few notes.

The Pledge for America states the following:

An arrogant and out-of-touch government of self-appointed elites makes decisions, issues mandates, and enacts laws without accepting or requesting the input of the many.

Over the 42 years since Richard Nixon was elected in 1968, the Republican have controlled to White House for 28 years. For 10 years the GOP controlled the Senate, and for 6 years they controlled the House. Veto pens were kept sharp. Assuming there’s no wish to have it both ways, the record of Republican accomplishment over this time period was not a glittering showcase for requesting and accepting the input of the many. Nor was it a showcase for something other than self-appointed Republican elites doing their thing while being advantaged by having at least some of the reigns of power.

What is happening in our current political era is a spectacle. I have schematized it accordingly.

Although the Bush II reign provided ripe opportunities, overall the ruling ideology for three decades, Reaganism, has produced Conservatism-light. (This is bad enough, as the economic metric demonstrate.) But, now we have the inchoate anarcho-communitarian Tea Party vigorously pursuing an incoherent but powerful version of Conservatism-heavy duty. The Republican elite have been taking a beating–even as they have been working hard to ‘quadrangulate,’ and, in doing so, co-opt the vigor of the Tea Party brethren.

The optimal goal for the self-absorbed insider GOP elites would be to join together the Tea Party with the old line Club for Growth/Christian Conservative factions.

You can see well enough where the fault lines are. For example, you have the libertarian, individualist faction up against the traditionalist God-fearing faction. One is against social engineering, and the other would welcome some focused, engineered, moral compliance. Meanwhile, the Tea Party is suspicious of “top down,” while in their different ways, the other other three factions are all about top down. The country club elites believe a little decadence constitutes earned rewards, while the Christian conservatives decry extra-familial eroticism–even if they sneak out to the clubs or corner now and then. The Tea Party folk want the government to take its hands off their medicare, while the country clubbers would like to shift medical risk entirely onto those same Tea Party folk.

To reduce this all, how do you square individualism, personal responsibility, cheap labor, risk shifting, moral rectitude, unfettered capitalism, with, on the part of the insider GOP elite, their absorbing desire to be restored to the top of the political food chain? Read the pledge and see how this all gets tangled up.

(I continue to find it astonishing that any citizen of our fair country can claim in the same breath that he or she understands what the founders knew for certain was the point of America, and, that all of sudden our country is in a pitched ‘Manichaean’ battle between good patriots and evil leftists.)

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The Big Uneasy

Harry Shearer’s The Big Uneasy is about bad engineering, mendacity, and future walls to nowhere.

Harry’s been busy. Harry’s videos occupy a channel over at My Damn Channel. He’s lucky because he can partner with his wife, the almost illegally talented singer/songwriter Judith Owen.

Judith Owen is obviously a good sport too.

The videos with a message she makes with her husband don’t showcase her main talents because she’s a astonishing vocal artist. I’ve posted a taste over at nogutsnoglory.

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Accounting for Antipathy

“I think that is the ultimate insensitivity, anyone looking at that with any common sense would say, ‘What in the world would we be doing, you know, fostering some type of system that allows this to happen.’ Everybody knows America’s built on the rights of free expression, the rights to practice your faith, but come on.”

Eric Cantor, R-Va, said this recently. This is my favorite bald, asshat quote of the year–so far. It’s palinesque in its appeal to (some version of) commonsense, and it’s not at all over-the-top, given the waves of grotesque rhetoric the Cordoba House project has evoked. Cantor’s opinion here doesn’t amuse me because it is of the tinfoil type. (There’s plenty of that of course, much of it subsisting on the belief President Obama is a Manchurian candidate and, maybe, the world’s most un-Muslim-like Muslim.) No, what I enjoy about this quote is how it encapsulates the falling away of a whole string of conservative pieties: First Amendment, for suckers; Local governance-fuhgetaboutit; God-centeredness-who needs it?While, out of nowhere, Cantor here seems to embrace political correctness–got to have it, and got to have it rotate around being sensitive.

This last play in favor of sensitivity captures, evidently, a new Republican move to embrace sensitivity! Who would have thunk it? But, sure, “being sensitive” should probably trump the Constitution if one is willing to flip flop on what used to be a longstanding, thorough-going principle of personal responsibility. (I chose this one, from among several delicious choices.) Isn’t the ideologically driven advice from Republicans almost always along the lines of: ‘suck it up!’ ‘take care of yourself’ ‘obey the Constitution and our Christian foundations’ etc.? Until now.

Another impressive feature of the Republican embrace of, this time, religious bigotry, is how sanctimonious Cantor, Gingrich, Palin, are about the composition of necessary exceptions to the First Amendment. So: ‘We’re tolerant, we’re pro-Constitution, but, let’s face it.’ I had thought the Constitution was more hallowed than the site of the 9-11 attack.

I’m sure I’ll know it when it happens: when any of these self-identified bright lights attach an argument favorable to the First Amendment to their politically-correct call for sensitivity about the sensitivities of religious bigots and their reactions to a project that has zero to do with Jihadi aspirations.

Meanwhile, Jeff Merkley, D-OR, framed the ‘cognitive’ issue, and other facts, succinctly:

“I appreciate the depth of emotions at play, but respectfully suggest that the presence of a mosque is only inappropriate near ground zero if we unfairly associate Muslim Americans with the atrocities of the foreign al-Qaida terrorists who attacked our nation. Such an association is a profound error. Muslim Americans are our fellow citizens, not our enemies. Muslim Americans were among the victims who died at the World Trade Center in the 9/11 attacks. Muslim American first responders risked their lives to save their fellow citizens that day. Many of our Muslim neighbors, including thousands of Oregon citizens, serve our country in war zones abroad and our communities at home with dedication and distinction.”

These facts of the matter go in one hand and the clear imperative of the 1st Amendment go in the other hand. Yet, this doesn’t settle the matter in a lot of people’s minds. Why this is so is of great interest to me. Opposition to the Cordoba project’s site location is not singular at all. It’s not simply only due to ignorance, or only due to practiced agendas, or only due to some politicized version of common sense.

Opponents’ antipathy surely can be understood in terms of psychology, yet, at the same time, understanding the nature of internalized distrust, false attribution, and, confirmation bias–to pick one constellation of behavioral features–doesn’t completely resolve that which constitutes behavioral explanations for upwelling of fear, anger, and, strong dislike, (ie.antipathy.)

The opposition is wide spread and encompasses a wide variety of people, and this surely includes persons who are highly educated, well-traveled, and, intelligent. The group of opponents also would have to include the opposite of this characterization, and, as well, include persons who believe all religions except for their own are members of a satanic opposition.

No simple explanation covers the entire group. But, Cantor’s prescriptive “come on” is simple. And, from this, it is apparent that a system of laws stands against very intense socially affective constructions. From my perspective, none of this yields to just supposing strong feelings based in counterfactual, socially-reinforced interpretations explains the, for example, commonsensical appeal to sensitivity, and fright about the strict ramifications of the 1st Amendment. Although, antipathy certainly isn’t, nor could it be, linked to opponents working through the salient facts. Those facts are also: simple.

But, the intense upwelling of affect, posed as it is by Cantor to literally trump the 1st Amendment, stands with all sorts of other propositions; propositions held by large groups of people with enthusiasm. Such enthusiasms do earn an account at least for reasons having to do with collective aspirations, which if realized, would subvert, if not overturn, all sorts of protective, often lawful, norms.

What and why and how people come to believe stuff has been one of the handful of my central interests for almost forty years. There is nothing surprising about the range of beliefs found at the extreme end of the continuum of antipathy about Muslims, and, similarly, about gays, Darwin, Democrats, elites, capitalists, banks and bankers, Dick Cheney, on and on.

In noting this, generally, it is optimal for people to internalize and be able to cope with factual, thus realistic, fears, sorrows and anger. Nevertheless, (I suggest,) a lot of energy and instinctual (or primary,) process potential attends to the status of our closely held beliefs–in the context of our each apprehending our various realistic and unrealistic interpretations of that which threatens those same beliefs. Antipathy may generally express primal fears oriented to not only having an Islamic cultural center set two blocks from where 9-11 unfolded, but also oriented to the very ideas that other believers, be they Muslims, metrosexuals, Harvard grads, Mexican laborers, progressive Democrats, (etc.,) have set themselves a bit too close to the home of belief–the self; and too close to: me and my own.

For me this antipathy spirals around the ‘low ordering’ of belief; about which I will riff in an ensuing post.

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Anarcho-capitalism and Praxeoilogy

The CEO of British Petroleum says he believes the overall environmental impact of this oil spill will be very, very modest. Yeah. If you live in England!” – Jay Leno

Note the date of the archival clip Ms. Maddow uses here:

In a cultural retrieval now making the rounds, a BP ‘branding’ piece from 1999.

With libertarianism, (a horrid and irrational pseudo-philosophy,) somewhat the rage in untutored circles these days, the gulf spill has me wondering how the destruction, (er, ‘moral hazard,’) is to be priced. I would offer that BP isn’t going to make the gulf whole, yet from the libertarian perspective, my hope is that the ultimate pricing does come to be embraced by the Randian/Rothbardian tribe.

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Crazy Coincidence

The Daily Show With Jon Stewart Mon – Thurs 11p / 10c
Back in Black – Glenn Beck’s Nazi Tourette’s
Daily Show Full Episodes Political Humor Tea Party

There’s no reason to add anything to Lewis Black’s work here.

On occasion, during my fifteen minute drive to work, I tune in Glenn Beck. His show is without fail immensely amusing, even if I have to concede he’s a master propagandist and purveyor of snake oil. Some have mentioned that Sarah Palin and Glenn Beck might constitute a powerful renegade ticket in 2012. From God’s ear, eh? At least it would provide a powerful cognitive sort!

Although Beck offers crazy as his stock-in-trade, sometimes he really goes running off the edge. For example, from April 2010,

We all find ourselves at a certain place at a certain time and we may not know what the role is we’re suppose to play, we may, in the end, we may not even know how much we effected different things, but we each are here and experience everything for a reason, that’s why I asked you yesterday…do not accept coincidence in your life. Look for the answers in your life, look for your answers in your life through coincidence, because there’s no such thing as a coincidence.

God is giving a plan I think to me that is not really a plan. And I stopped myself because I didn’t want to utter those things out loud, because that’s not exactly right, and it’s not.

The problem is that I think the plan that the Lord would have us follow is hard for people to understand. But I’m telling you, here’s what I feel with everything in me, and, if you’ve listened to this program for a long time, you know who I am. Um, and you know many of things I’ve done and said that have put me in, ya know, harm’s way one way or another, they always start at the same place, they always start at my gut or my heart, and then I figure it out as we go along. All the stuff that I feel has been important on the show has been things that I felt and didn’t understand.

Because of my track record with you who have been here for a long time. Because of my track record with you, I beg of you to help me get this message out, and I beg of you to pray for clarity on my part. The plan that He would have me articulate, I think, to you is “Get behind me.” And I don’t mean me, I mean Him. “Get behind Me. Stand behind Me.” I truly believe I have done years now of reading the Founders, their diaries, their letters, the Pilgrims, their diaries, their letters. I’ve held their letters in my hands. The exchanges between the Founders, I’ve held their actual letters in my hand. I have seen it with my own eyes…and I will tell you that God was instrumental and then knew it! They knew they had very little to do with it. They just stood where they were supposed to stand and they said the things that they were supposed to say as He directed. Some of them lost their way, some of them got it wrong, they got back and forth…they were human. But that’s what He’s asking us to do…is to stand peacefully, quietly, with anger, quiet with anger, loudly with truth.

How odd is it that one can build a many hundred’s of million dollar fortune by saying stuff that might earn you a psychiatric work-up if you said it behind a curtain in an emergency room? What a great country.

As it happens, my main area of interest is “co-incidence,” (and, chance, randomness, serendipity, luck,) as features found in descriptions in everyday life. Should somebody tell me ‘there are no coincidences’ I would want to patiently listen to he or she present their account. I’ll keep an ear out for Mr. Neck’s exegis beyond his implying he is serving some cosmic historical role.

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Seeing Red



1 in 4 Americans censoring thoughts under Obama

Confidence in constitutional liberties plunges further still
Posted: March 27, 2010
11:50 pm Eastern
By Bob Unruh
© 2010 WorldNetDaily 
Editor’s note: This is another in a series of monthly “Freedom Index” polls conducted exclusively for WND by the public opinion research and media consulting company Wenzel Strategies. 
Nearly one American in four routinely censors his or her own thoughts “much” or “always” under President Obama’s administration, and those who believe their personal liberties have plunged since inauguration day have grown significantly from 49 percent to more than 55 percent in just one month. 

This month, of course, was when Democrats rammed through a bill that essentially nationalizes health care, creating new requirements for consumers to purchase a government-chosen plan or face penalties. 
The WND Freedom Index poll from Wenzel Strategies shows even one in 10 Democrats – whose party controls both the White House and Congress – believes there’s been a big decrease in freedoms. 

“Largely on the negative reaction by men to the actions of Obama and Democrats in Washington, the Freedom Index has dipped again to its near all-time low, sitting at 46.7 on a 100-point scale,” said Fritz Wenzel in his analysis of the results. 
“Simply put, Americans are growing by the month more pessimistic about their freedoms and their fear that government is trying to take them away.” 
He continued, “In the 10 months since the inauguration of the WorldNetDaily.com Freedom Index, it has dropped nearly 11 points on the 100-point scale, and has dropped from a decidedly positive position last spring to a decidedly negative position today.” 

The WND/Wenzel Poll was conducted by telephone from March 22-24 using an automated telephone technology calling a random sampling of listed telephone numbers nationwide. The survey included 30 questions and carries a 95 percent confidence interval. It included 792 likely voters. It carries a margin of error of 3.46 percentage points.

Man, talk about priming a poll result!

This raises lots of questions aside from those about polling methodology.

Do you suppose some people would report feeling really free and thoroughly liberated irrespective of anything the U.S. government has done, say in the last 37 years since such a person first voted at 18?

How would one account for this, account for a person impervious to the tug of that which denies one their freedoms?

How would the internalized sense of one’s being free to some degree be indexed? I’m reminded there was no cogent psychology Locke could utilize. (Romantic!) notions about property and happiness, be they of Hayek or Nozick, cross over into what reasonable domain of psychology? You couldn’t go there with those fellows if you wanted to!

For example, Libertarian thought leader David Boaz:

Libertarians believe that there is a natural harmony of interests among peaceful, productive people in a just society. One person’s individual plans — which may involve getting a job, starting a business, buying a house, and so on — may conflict with the plans of others, so the market makes many of us change our plans. But we all prosper from the operation of the free market, and there are no necessary conflicts between farmers and merchants, manufacturers and importers. Only when government begins to hand out rewards on the basis of political pressure do we find ourselves involved in group conflict, pushed to organize and contend with other groups for a piece of political power. (Libertarianism: A Primer)

The leap from ‘no necessary’ to ‘only when’ hammers home the naivete. The absence of socio-psychological understanding is, obviously, implicit.

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None of the Above

Depending on where you stand — or the given day — he is either an overintellectual, professorial wuss or a ruthless Chicago machine pol rivaling the original Boss Daley. He is either a socialist redistributing wealth to the undeserving poor or a tool of Wall Street’s Goldman Sachs elite. He is a terrorist-coddling, A.C.L.U.-tilting lawyer or a closet Cheneyite upholding the worst excesses of the Bush administration’s end run on the Constitution. He is a lightweight celebrity who’s clueless without a teleprompter or a Machiavellian mastermind who has ingeniously forged his Hawaiian birth certificate, covered up his ties to Islamic radicals and bamboozled the entire mainstream press. He is the reincarnation of J.F.K., L.B.J., F.D.R., Reagan, Hitler, Stalin, Adlai Stevenson or Nelson Mandela. (Frank Rich, NYT, April 4, 2010, It’s a Bird, It’s a Plane, It’s Obama!)

It would seem quite possible, if not likely, that if you scratch beneath the surface of the numerous anti-Obama factions you would, if determined, scratch into varieties of the real itch.

Even to scratch around in the web sites of the Tea Party territories is to learn sooner or later that one of the itchy spots is sparked by a lot of resentment. No–more than merely ‘a lot.’ This is viewable once one tugs away the various remixing of atrocious interpretations of history, the Constitution, and the religiosity of the sainted founders. It’s almost as if somebody wanted to build a paragon out of racist slaveholders.

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God Loves Gunn High School

Fred Phelps, the hateful and hate-mongering ‘pastor’ of infamousWestboro Baptist Church, Topeka, brought his tiny insane mob to a sidewalk across the street of Gunn High School, Palo Alto, California. Phelps is well beyond the pale, and, for example, has stated that military casualties in the current combat zones are the singular result of ‘his’ God’s hatred of America.

Gunn students and the community came up with an enlightened response.

Not In Our Town, working together for safe and inclusive communities, produced the video.

Perfect. Salon picked up the story.

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The Loop

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Lisa Miller. (My elderly mom didn’t laugh when I joked Ms. Miller ‘looks like she could have graduated from Bryn Mawr,’ my mom’s alma mater.)

In this clip, Ms. Miller argues for a return to charity, responsibility and rights. when I saw this, I was reminded of Sarah Palin speaking of solving the country’s problems by leaving it to the genius and innovative spirit of the regular Americans. Michelle Bachman has many times spoken of the country’s need to restore the values of self-reliance and personal responsibility.

This got me to thinking about the personal responsibility meme as a proposition of the Tea Party Patriots, (and their ilk.)

I went out and did some research and learned a lot. There are a variety of propositions, but these do not vary much from each other. The basic structure is unremarkable:

(1) To practice personal responsibility, one must be self-reliant,
(2) To be self-reliant one must live within their means.
(3) To live within these means, one must plan ahead to withstand what life throws at you
(4) To plan ahead, means one must sock away the funds necessary to being self-reliant,

It’s a loop. Charity figures into this ethic. When it comes about that self-reliance is stretched beyond the breaking point, this same ethic supposes the individual may appeal for help from “one’s own,’ from one’s community, from one’s church. This superficially commonsensical ethic is not without a context, for its proponents advocate its sources are (variably) found in Christianity, the ethics of the Founding Fathers, and the thought leaders of libertarianism. In noting this, I didn’t discover any writing seeking to anchor this notion of self-reliance in any actually coherent ‘thought-leading’ philosophy; (as might be found in Hayek, for example.)

Arrayed against this notional ethic is the “Other,” and this Other is characterized as anybody and everybody who has their hand out to any entity not comprised of family, one’s own, church, community. …for any reason whatsoever. Advocates of this version of the ethic of self-reliance excoriate, then, all instances of social welfare spending, whether it pays out to householder or company.

At times, this ethic’s social critique roars against other stuff too; against: the Federal Reserve and fractional reserve banking, credit cards, big government, socialists cum fascists, immigrants, the poor, the irreligious, humanism, social justice, and, modernity. Etc.

The truism, “you know how to spend your money better than the government does” underwrites their criticism of government and the popular Tea Party motto ‘Don’t Tread On Me.’ Then it gets plugged into notional ideas about the nature of liberty and freedom.

We are dedicated to the principles of constitutionally limited, transparent and accountable government, self-reliance and self-determination and free-market capitalism. (Outer Banks Tea Party)

How far can this notion be extended? You don’t have to read deeply into the copious literature of Tea Party Patriotism to discover this notion underpins conceptions for literally ending the political valency of any contravening ideas. This come to the fore as if the enforcement of self-reliance could both amplify liberty, and, at the same time dash all gainsaying. This is to suggest this brand of aspiration-for-freedom seems to carry with it, also, a demand for compliance at the end of the day on which the socialists have been defeated.

Obviously, this objective reflects a singular contradiction in terms. It seems a brutal ethic; especially when you consider how it has–on rare occasion–played out throughout history. Of course, to consider the devilish details implicit in given degrees of self-reliance–some people obtaining more margins for survival than others–is to consider how the most self-reliant can come to dominate, subject, and colonize the lesser, but no less (in these notional terms,) self-reliant.

The idealization of self-reliance does require some Other with their hands out. Evidently, for the Tea Party brethren, this is a very frightening requirement. It is the lens through which their paranoia is focused.

Tea Party Lights Fuse for Rebellion on Right (February 15, 2010: NYT)

Mr. Beck frequently echoes Patriot rhetoric, discussing the possible arrival of a “New World Order” and arguing that Mr. Obama is using a strategy of manufactured crisis to destroy the economy and pave the way for dictatorship.

In New Mexico, Mary Johnson, recording secretary of the Las Cruces Tea Party steering committee, described why she fears the government. She pointed out how much easier it is since Sept. 11 for the government to tap telephones and scour e-mail, bank accounts and library records. “Twenty years ago that would have been a paranoid statement,” Ms. Johnson said. “It’s not anymore.”

Mr. Paul led Mrs. Southwell to Patriot ideology, which holds that governments and economies are controlled by networks of elites who wield power through exclusive entities like the Bilderberg Group, the Trilateral Commission and the Council on Foreign Relations.

One local group represented at Liberty Lake was Arm in Arm, which aims to organize neighborhoods for possible civil strife by stockpiling food and survival gear, and forming armed neighborhood groups.

Still, it is a big mistake to generalize about the ‘affectual’ terrain the tea party patriots travel.

(It interests me whenever there can be a thought problem such as this one: persons A and B, are in identical situations, yet A is afraid of stuff, while B is not; a subject for a future post.)

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Would James Madison Roll In His Grave? Two parts


Alex Gibney, director of the new film Casino Jack (& The United States of Money,) also Oscar-winning director of “Taxi to the Dark Side” and “Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room” interviewed here by Andrew O’Hehir (Salon-link)

Key capture:

“the free market agenda that intends to destroy government”

This phrase leaps out because I’ve long wondered how philosophical Conservatism, unfettered capitalism, and, Judeo-Christian morality are ever reconciled.

In 2006 the filmmaker Danny Shechter produced the little-seen documentary, In Debt We Trust. It’s at your library, folks. So is Gibney’s Enron, the Smartest Boys In the Room. Leslie and Andrew Cockburn released their documentary American Casino last year.


It was a delicious moment when Justice Alito seemed perturbed at Obama stating the obvious during the SOTU. Sure, the majority affirmed the principal of free speech in certain terms.

“When Government seeks to use its full power, including includingthe criminal law, to command where a person may get hisor her information or what distrusted source he or she may not hear, it uses censorship to control thought. This is unlawful. The First Amendment confirms the freedom to think for ourselves.”

But in this decision the majority morphed into activist* proponents of a living Constitution.

But might we not come to a point in the future where corporate money rallies to support ‘their’ law-and-order candidate so as to assure order against a surge in disorder provoked by severely economically beleaguered masses?

* There is simply no support for the view that the First Amendment, as originally understood, would permit the suppression of political speech by media corporations. The Framers may not have anticipated modern business and media corporations. (pg.44, CITIZENS UNITED v. FEDERAL ELECTION COMMISSION)

If James Madison were around, would he endorse concentration of power and wealth?

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David Brooks Fail

The milquetoast, kinder-and-gentler conservative NYT editorialist David Brooks delivered another brightly burning ideational bulb today. Man, I wish he had had the time to show it to the missus first!

It is all downhill after this tipping point, reached in the piece’s fourth sentence:

Politics, some believe, is the organization of hatreds. The people who try to divide society on the basis of ethnicity we call racists. The people who try to divide it on the basis of religion we call sectarians. The people who try to divide it on the basis of social class we call either populists or elitists.The Populist Addiction – NYT – 1/26:2010

Brooks wants to bracket his main point with, as it turns out, a nonsensical treatment of populism. He’s made this main point previously in a review Ron Chernow’s biography of Alexander Hamilton. This review, titled Creating Capitalism, was published in April 2004 in the NYT.

From the review,

But Hamilton dreamed of a vibrant economy that would allow aspiring meritocrats like himself to rise and realize their full capacities. He sought to smash the aristocratic fiefs enjoyed by Southern landowners like Jefferson and to replace them with a diversified marketplace that would be open to immigrants and the lowborn. Their vigor, he felt, would drive the nation to greatness. ”Every new scene, which is opened to the busy nature of man to rouse and exert itself, is the addition of a new energy to the general stock of effort,” he wrote.

He started a political tradition, dormant in our own day, in which energetic government doesn’t oppose market dynamism but is organized to enhance it. Today our liberal/conservative debates tend to pit the advocates of government against the advocates of the market. Today our politics is dominated by rival strands of populism: the anticorporate populism of the Democrats and the anti-Washington populism of the Republicans. But Hamilton thought in entirely different categories. He argued that ”liberty may be endangered by the abuses of liberty as well as by the abuses of power.” He wanted a limited but energetic government that would open fields of enterprise and give new directions to popular passions.

His editorial is a recycle job.

Hamilton championed capital markets and Lincoln championed banks, not because they loved traders and bankers. They did it because they knew a vibrant capitalist economy would maximize opportunity for poor boys like themselves. They were willing to tolerate the excesses of traders because they understood that no institution is more likely to channel opportunity to new groups and new people than vigorous financial markets.

In their view, government’s role was not to side with one faction or to wage class war. It was to rouse the energy and industry of people at all levels. It was to enhance competition and make it fair — to make sure that no group, high or low, is able to erect barriers that would deprive Americans of an open field and a fair chance. Theirs was a philosophy that celebrated development, mobility and work, wherever those things might be generated.

And what was the status and stature of the industrial revolution in the first decade of the 19th century in the U.S.? (Hamilton died in 1804.) What, at the time, was the normal range of ambitions for the average man? ‘open field’ indeed!

Then, having raced downhill, Brooks writes one of the most astonishing sentences of his career:

If they continue their random attacks on enterprise and capital, they will only increase the pervasive feeling of uncertainty, which is now the single biggest factor in holding back investment, job creation and growth.

I’m going to offer an opposing idea: people are certain about the current state of the economy. Many people are certain about who got bent over and who did the bending too.

Ironically, Brooks offers implicit advice, advice perhaps dear to the capitalist’s heart. Last implied by Phil Graham, remember?

Yup, suck it up you whiners–you’re the real problem. ‘Just let us make some more dough now that we’ve managed to eke out a bit more productivity from our lucky surviving workforce.’ After all, Al Hamilton says so, and, let’s face it, we’re really a country about the faction-less dynamism of marching capital.

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