November 2, 2009 archive

Muse in the Morning

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Muse in the Morning

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The muses are ancient.  The inspirations for our stories were said to be born from them.  Muses of song and dance, or poetry and prose, of comedy and tragedy, of the inward and the outward.  In one version they are Calliope, Euterpe and Terpsichore, Erato and Clio, Thalia and Melpomene, Polyhymnia and Urania.

It has also been traditional to name a tenth muse.  Plato declared Sappho to be the tenth muse, the muse of women poets.  Others have been suggested throughout the centuries.  I don’t have a name for one, but I do think there should be a muse for the graphical arts.  And maybe there should be many more.

I know you have talent.  What sometimes is forgotten is that being practical is a talent.  I have a paucity for that sort of talent in many situations, though it turns out that I’m a pretty darn good cook.  🙂  

Let your talent bloom.  You can share it here.  Encourage others to let it bloom inside them as well.

Won’t you share your words or art, your sounds or visions, your thoughts scientific or philosophic, the comedy or tragedy of your days, the stories of doing and making?  And be excellent to one another!

The “No” vote at Ford

Original article via World Socialist Web Site:

The decisive vote by Ford workers to reject the concessions contract worked out between the company and the United Auto Workers is a major advance not only for Ford workers, but for all auto workers and the working class as a whole, both in the US and internationally.

Late Night Karaoke

Open Thread

Why Propaganda Trumps Truth

Paul Craig Roberts was a prominent member of the Reagan administration.  


He served as an Assistant Secretary of the Treasury in the Reagan Administration earning fame as the “Father of Reaganomics”. He is a former editor and columnist for the Wall Street Journal, Business Week, and Scripps Howard News Service. He is a graduate of the Georgia Institute of Technology and he holds a Ph.D. from the University of Virginia. He was a post-graduate at the University of California, Berkeley, and Oxford University where he was a member of Merton College.

In 1992 he received the Warren Brookes Award for Excellence in Journalism. In 1993 the Forbes Media Guide ranked him as one of the top seven journalists in the United States.[1]

Smart guy, right?  Smarter still that he turned on his masters and now speaks his mind, and the truth (as he knows it) to anyone who will listen.

Check out what he’s saying about 9/11, and propaganda.


An article in the journal, Sociological Inquiry, casts light on the effectiveness of propaganda. Researchers examined why big lies succeed where little lies fail. Governments can get away with mass deceptions, but politicians cannot get away with sexual affairs.

The researchers explain why so many Americans still believe that Saddam Hussein was behind 9/11, years after it has become obvious that Iraq had nothing to do with the event. Americans developed elaborate rationalizations based on Bush administration propaganda that alleged Iraqi involvement and became deeply attached to their beliefs. Their emotional involvement became wrapped up in their personal identity and sense of morality. They looked for information that supported their beliefs and avoided information that challenged them, regardless of the facts of the matter.

In Mein Kampf, Hitler explained the believability of the Big Lie as compared to the small lie: “In the simplicity of their minds, people more readily fall victims to the big lie than the small lie, since they themselves often tell small lies in little matters but would be ashamed to resort to large-scale falsehoods. It would never come into their heads to fabricate colossal untruths, and they would not believe that others could have such impudence. Even though the facts which prove this to be so may be brought clearly to their minds, they will still doubt and continue to think that there may be some other explanation.”

What the sociologists and Hitler are telling us is that by the time facts become clear, people are emotionally wedded to the beliefs planted by the propaganda and find it a wrenching experience to free themselves. It is more comfortable, instead, to denounce the truth-tellers than the liars whom the truth-tellers expose.

This is why we see the extreme emotions displayed at a place such as Dailykos, where people get absolutely hysterical when anyone brings up the facts of 9/11.  That is the power of good PSYOPS, and it is why the military has a PSYOPS division.  

9/11 was a trauma for everyone.  We were all wedded to what we thought happened that day, and our minds and our brains adjusted, as best they could, to what we thought was the reality of it.  When we start to learn that what happened that day may have been completely different than what we not only believed, but what we mourned and grieved, we get angry.  

They’re like the emotions you’d experience if you found out someone you loved, who you thought was dead, who you had mourned and grieved, had actually staged their death.  You’d be pretty pissed.


The psychology of belief retention even when those beliefs are wrong is a pillar of social cohesion and stability. It explains why, once change is effected, even revolutionary governments become conservative. The downside of belief retention is its prevention of the recognition of facts. Belief retention in the Soviet Union made the system unable to adjust to economic reality, and the Soviet Union collapsed. Today in the United States millions find it easier to chant “USA, USA, USA” than to accept facts that indicate the need for change.

Or to change “Obama!  Obama!  Obama!” than to recognize that Obama is just another one of “them”.  


The staying power of the Big Lie is the barrier through which the 9/11 Truth Movement is finding it difficult to break. The assertion that the 9/11 Truth Movement consists of conspiracy theorists and crackpots is obviously untrue. The leaders of the movement are highly qualified professionals, such as demolition experts, physicists, structural architects, engineers, pilots, and former high officials in the government. Unlike their critics parroting the government’s line, they know what they are talking about.

Here is a link to a presentation by the architect, Richard Gage, to a Canadian university audience.  The video of the presentation is two hours long and seems to have been edited to shorten it down to two hours. Gage is low-key, but not a dazzling personality or a very articulate presenter. Perhaps that is because he is speaking to a university audience and takes for granted their familiarity with terms and concepts.

Those who believe the official 9/11 story and dismiss skeptics as kooks can test the validity of the sociologists’ findings and Hitler’s observation by watching the video and experiencing their reaction to evidence that challenges their beliefs. Are you able to watch the presentation without scoffing at someone who knows far more about it than you do? What is your response when you find that you cannot defend your beliefs against the evidence presented? Scoff some more? Become enraged?

Another problem that the 9/11 Truth Movement faces is that few people have the education to follow the technical and scientific aspects. The side that they believe tells them one thing; the side that they don’t believe tells them another. Most Americans have no basis to judge the relative merits of the arguments.

Now he brings up something I’ve written about here, more than once:  The Lockerbie bomber case.


For example, consider the case of the Lockerbie bomber. One piece of “evidence” that was used to convict Magrahi was a piece of circuit board from a device that allegedly contained the Semtex that exploded the airliner. None of the people, who have very firm beliefs in Magrahi’s and Libya’s guilt and in the offense of the Scottish authorities in releasing Magrahi on allegedly humanitarian grounds, know that circuit boards of those days have very low combustion temperatures and go up in flames easily. Semtex produces very high temperatures. There would be nothing whatsoever left of a device that contained Semtex. It is obvious to an expert that the piece of circuit board was planted after the event.

The Lockerbie case was similar to 9/11 in that people swallowed the government story, digested it, integrated it with their horror and grief at the tragedy, and now what they believe about the case is part of their actual belief system.  To throw evidence at them that their belief system is actually flawed makes them angry.  They feel insulted.

And now he gets to something that has confounded me for quite some time:


What I find puzzling is the people I know who do not believe a word the government says about anything except 9/11. For reasons that escape me, they believe that the government that lies to them about everything else tells them the truth about 9/11. How can this be, I ask them. Did the government slip up once and tell the truth? My question does not cause them to rethink their belief in the government’s 9/11 story. Instead, they get angry with me for doubting their intelligence or their integrity or some such hallowed trait.

The problem faced by truth is the emotional needs of people. With 9/11 many Americans feel that they must believe their government so that they don’t feel like they are being unsupportive or unpatriotic, and they are very fearful of being called “terrorist sympathizers.” Others on the left-wing have emotional needs to believe that peoples oppressed by the US have delivered “blowbacks.” Some leftists think that America deserves these blowbacks and thus believe the government’s propaganda that Muslims attacked the US.

I think he’s right about the emotional needs of people being a part of this, but he stops far short of the emotional truth of it.  Like I said above, people mourned the event, they grieved it, they emotionally digested it until what they thought was the truth about it became a part of them.  

To hear something that suggests that your very reality, that which you think is literally “the world that exists around you” is actually not true, is going to be met with fierce emotional resistance.  There’s going to be a knee-jerk emotional response of “no!”  To use the word “denial” to describe this would be somewhat accurate, but this is actually something far more powerful than simple garden variety denial.

And this is what the propagandists understand.

And that is why they have power over us.

It is, perhaps, the greatest power you can have over people.  It is greater than the power of force, because people will fight force.  Force is obvious.  Using force against people results in a similar knee-jerk emotional reaction, but against you.  Good propaganda results in them cheering for you, as I saw somewhere else (here?) it’s like the chickens rooting for Colonel Sanders.  

Now THAT’S power.

In the next section he talks about this power, but he attributes it to the power of the government.  I attribute it to the power of the media.  For most people, their window to the world, quite literally, is their television set.  Their sense of reality beyond their little tiny slice of the world is the television.  If they don’t see it on television, it’s not “real” and it didn’t really happen.  We all know what I’m talking about because almost all of us, whether we care to admit it or not, experience this to some degree or another.  I know I do, still, to this day (conditioning is hard to lose).   People simply do not question the media.


As far as I can tell, most Americans have far greater confidence in the government than they do in the truth. During the Great Depression the liberals with their New Deal succeeded in teaching Americans to trust the government as their protector. This took with the left and the right. Neither end of the political spectrum is capable of fundamental questioning of the government. This explains the ease with which our government routinely deceives the people.

Democracy is based on the assumption that people are rational beings who factually examine arguments and are not easily manipulated. Studies are not finding this to be the case. In my own experience in scholarship, public policy, and journalism, I have learned that everyone from professors to high school dropouts has difficulty with facts and analyses that do not fit with what they already believe. The notion that “we are not afraid to follow the truth wherever it may lead” is an extremely romantic and idealistic notion. I have seldom experienced open minds even in academic discourse or in the highest levels of government. Among the public at large, the ability to follow the truth wherever it may lead is almost non-existent.

The US government’s response to 9/11, regardless of who is responsible, has altered our country forever. Our civil liberties will never again be as safe as they were. America’s financial capability and living standards are forever lower. Our country’s prestige and world leadership are forever damaged. The first decade of the 21st century has been squandered in pointless wars, and it appears the second decade will also be squandered in the same pointless and bankrupting pursuit.

Pique the Geek 20091101: A Primer on Nuclear Electricity

We shall get away from food for this installment of Pique the Geek and talk about something more, well, geeky.  The concept of nuclear power is widely known, but the actual way that is works is mysterious to some because people think that it is hard.  Actually, the basic science behind nuclear power is very simple, but the technology to contain and make it practical is complex.

This complexity is due to several reasons, not the least of which is safety.  Whilst the nuclear fuel to power commercial reactors is not very malignant, after that fuel has been used a while it becomes extremely radioactive due to a large number of complex nuclear interactions.  It is the spent reactor fuel that is the real problem.  However, there is a completely different technology used to generate electricity that does not involve a nuclear reactor, and we shall discuss this one first.

Overnight Caption Contest

World Series Liveblog

No rain today.

Do progressives really want power?

It’s an honest question.  First I look at the legacy of historical progressivism at the beginning of the 20th century.  There will be an interlude to question the progressive credentials as regards the desire for power.  I will conclude by casting a brief glance at the situation with health care reform.  The argument will be pervaded through-and-through by a class analysis, in which progressives ignore class struggle at their peril while the rich accumulate power through their wealth.

No, this is not about “patience.”  It’s about whether or not you all have the nerve to ask for what you want, and to continue to ask for it (while building your power base around those demands) until you get it.

(Crossposted at Orange)

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