January 24th, 2012

turkey dance

Newspapers and Politics

For the first time in 71 years, the Chicago Sun-Times is not endorsing a candidate for the 2012 elections. The reason cited by publisher John Barron and editorial page editor Tom McNamee is that the job of print media is to report about the candidates, elections, and issues rather than 'spinning' to favor the endorsed candidate above all else. [Source]
We have come to doubt the value of candidate endorsements by this newspaper or any newspaper, especially in a day when a multitude of information sources allow even a casual voter to be better informed than ever before.
It's true that as time's passed, the internet's cast a wider net into print media, television, and radio. With the click of a mouse, millions can watch a debate, read transcripts of speeches, and verify a candidate's voting record.
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The King's Eye: Secret Societies and Popular Sovereignty‏

The legend of Jesus makes much more sense when it is placed in the context of the times in which it was enacted. Rather than coming across as some other-worldly miracle worker, Jesus appears to have been a member of a secret society. When people of leisure during the sixteenth century investigated the context of the Jesus story and how it had been exploited, they saw a need for a secret society of their own. They could not share the results of their research with other people without a security apparatus. There were two groups already in existence to whom they could turn for support. One was a remnant of the Knights Templar and the other was a remnant of a Spanish Sufi order. A third option was to start a whole new organization.

Isaac Newton conducted the same inquiry and alluded to the need for secrecy in his extant writings. It was a crime to know and speak the truth. The tradition that saw it as a crime back then still sees it as a crime today. The truth continues to demand a cloak of secrecy to protect its keepers from the jealous glare of the king's eye. Liberalism fools itself in thinking that despotism cannot exist in a "democratic" society. In its denial of regal authority, liberalism makes the false assumption that the power to command and control has been tamed. It thinks that the beast is in a cage even as the creature stalks the streets. Liberalism ignores the evidence in the lacerated wounds of beastly victims. There is a cabinet full of drugs to ease the victim's pain, but not a single treatment to address the cause. A blind physician cannot treat what she cannot, nor will not, perceive.

I mentioned the remnant of the Knights Templar to an acquaintance. He characterized them as anti-Catholic. I pointed out that they were founded and populated by Catholics. The oppositional attitude is actually the other way around. It is Catholicism which opposes the secret society. The latter is willing to give the king his own breathing space. Perhaps this is why liberalism is blind to the machinations of the crown. It resembles the fear of criticizing national socialist tendencies within Israel lest one be branded an anti-Semite. Here in America, Roman Catholics started their own version of the remnant Knights. They even have multiple degrees of initiation. I witnessed their support for defrauding women of rights this past weekend. It was nice of them to wave the US flag as they promoted political actions that would further subjugate poor women.

What role to you see for secret societies in the politics of the future?
Sri Yantra

Framing the debate.

Isn't it amazing how we frame political debates?

In the UK we have just had a reading of a new "Welfare Reform Bill" including a section on a "Benefit Cap" which will limit benefits for the unemployed of most kinds: this has been done on the grounds of expense. Quite rightly people see they are paying out from their taxes what they consider to be "excessive" benefits. One set of figures I saw mentioned the savings from the Benefit Cap alone would amount to £270M a year, which is almost £5 a year for each person in the country, or almost £10 a year for every tax-payer. However, the House of Lords amended the teeth from the bill (much against the will of the people, damn elitist House of Lords scum) by scuppering any inclusion of Child Benefit in the equation.

Now, a few folk with kids would become homeless over this "Benefit Cap" and maybe as many as 60,000 will be affected by it. But the tax-payers, most of whom appear to approve of this return to the values of Dickensian society, aren't too bothered about it, because they'll each be saving almost £10 a year. This could buy three pints of beer or half a bottle of cheap whisky, and that's not to be sniffed at.

And at the other end of the spectrum apparently tax evasion costs the UK some £69.9 Billion a year. This doesn't apparently take into account legitimate though unethical tax-avoidance. If this could be fixed it would put over £1,100 in each person's pocket, or well over £2,200 in each tax-payer's pocket. Or pay for well over half of the UK's total healthcare budget.

But really, who wants an extra couple of thou, or a decent health service, when we could be evicting families for the price of a few pints of beer a year. I mean to say, it all adds up, doesn't it?

Noblesse Oblige. The poor are always with us. Unless we can find a way of shipping them abroad, or encouraging them to live a life of homelessness where they will only be a minor drain on society until they die at approximately aged 47.

I know folk like Cameron have to pander to the ignorance and prejudices of the voting public. And it sure helps if the voting public are kept ignorant and prejudiced. I mean to say, even the Labour party agrees with the coalition that the "Benefit Cap" is a good thing, because it too has to appeal to the voting public.

I do think that we should educate our folk to be able to think critically, and if necessary, that education should be beaten into folk when they are children. But this is because, as an elitist, a snob, and someone who likes to occupy the moral and intellectual high ground despite my obvious limitations, I have little time for the ignorance and prejudices of the general public, especially when they are informed quite as badly as they appear to be.

  • paft

Newt, Racism, and the Stanford Experiment

Chris Matthews, in the wake of the Republican Debate where Newt Gingrich belittled Juan Williams: And by the way, calling someone a racist is the worst way to get them to stop being a racist, because everybody gets defensive…and they get mad about it. It’s stupid to say it, but if you notice it, you sorta oughta blow the whistle…but boy is this tricky…”

Let’s be clear about something. Nobody who actually knows anything about racism labors under the illusion that calling someone a “racist” is going to make that person stop being a racist. That’s not why the term needs to be used.

It needs to be used to call out racism before it makes significant inroads back into the mainstream. It needs to be used to ensure that racism continues to be viewed as something immoral, shameful. If racists had been consistently called out for what it is twenty years ago, overt racism would not be rearing its ugly head again in national politics.

But no, people like Matthews thought it was clever to avoid using that icky “R” word. They allowed racists to take control of the language, and the result is that today, what should be quite simple and obvious to anyone with an IQ beyond two digits is now deemed “tricky.”

In 1971, a study was conducted now known as “The Stanford Prison Experiment.” A small group of Stanford students were divided into “prisoners” and “guards.” The experiment was called to a halt early because so many of the “guards” became abusive towards their “prisoners.” These guards, it should be noted, were not sadists or sociopaths. They were human beings put into a situation where they were given “permission” to abuse other human beings, and where such abuse was treated as the norm.

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Failure to Communicate...

In 1956 Robert Lifton wrote THE book on brain-washing. Lifton said...

The language of the totalist environment is characterized by the thought-terminating cliché. The most far-reaching and complex of human problems are compressed into brief, highly reductive, definitive-sounding phrases, easily memorized and easily expressed. These become the start and finish of any ideological analysis.

We all know the lines. Prgressives love to go on about how "Conservatives are racist" or how "Conservatives want the poor to starve in the street", just as Conservatives will support anything done in the name of "National Security" or "Traditional Values"

Everyone uses such clichés to some degree. Either to avoid facing uncomfortable truths about themselves, or as a means to marginalize potential opposition. About a week ago I got into a war of words on with someone I ordinarily respect and agree with. The battle spanned two posts and close to 200 comments. Needless to say, things got a little heated.

The core of the disagreement was my assertion that it is not enough to say that something is right or wrong. One must also be able to articulate why.

Anything less make you vulnerable to cliché.

In my opinion, many progressives on this forum use charges of racism or just plain cruelty on the part of thier opponents to avoid taking a good hard look at the flaws in thier own reasoning.

As was said in the comments to an earlier post... If we can't have the conversation in reallistic terms, and naming the apropriate parties, then exactly how are we to be solving any of the problems? If, for example, I cannot say "the african american population of the US is 17% of the overall, and committs 40% of the murders, how can we improve that situation", without worry of being accused of racism and hate-mongering, then exactly *how* can we look at solutions

On the flip-side, Many conservatives freely accuse Obama of being a Communist or a Socialist. but far fewer are willing to examine whether or not such titles are warrented or why being one a might be a bad thing in the first place.

What clichés do you fall prey to?

Live stream of the State of the Union.

Edit: Since the live stream is down, I've embedded a recording of the speech. I wanted to add two things to that. First, this just the policies version of the speech, with all the silly pandering and applause cut out, leaving just the concrete policy proposals.

Second, my general reaction. What ever happened to tax simplification? Why is it that every major policy goal is to be accomplished by tax breaks? Tax breaks for bringing jobs back to the US, tax penalties for removing jobs. Tax breaks for hiring veterans, tax breaks for manufacturing, tax breaks for small businesses, tax breaks for tuition, penalties for millionaires and billionaires, tax breaks for clean energy... seriously, people, it's a bit ridiculous. Can we really expect to tweak the economy any way we please by giving tax breaks to anyone and everyone?

Overall, I liked some of the more confrontational elements in the speech (like his proposal to remove subsidies from oil producers), but I'm disappointed to realize that it's just red meat for the base. Congress won't pass 95% of this agenda, certainly not in an election year, and likely not after one, either, so it's just so much hot air.