December 17, 2009 archive

The implausibility of the narrative.

When politics gets to a point where there is no reality and we the people are only offered a story written by and for the villain with one face, politics becomes poetic faith. Our choice is between two sides of the same face. We emotionally invest in the choice believing that the pols we’re offered are going to win the day for we the people. We expect the reality of oppressive governance to end, everything will be groovy, and hopey changiness

will once again rule the land of the free and the home of the brave. Yes we can!


The Hammer Comes Down: the Truth Attacks DKOS

This is a diary touting a diary on DKOS called No One is Going to Save You Fools”. A big thank-you to thereisnospoon.

Some exerpts.

I’m what they call a Qualitative Research Consultant, or QRC for short.  Here’s my website.  There’s even a whole association of us who meet regularly to discuss ideas and tactics.  Together with the AAPC, the MRA, the AMA, ESOMAR, and a whole host of other organizations you’ve never heard of, we have more power and control than you know.  We’re extremely good at what we do, and we do it all behind the scenes, appealing to and manipulating your subconscious brain in ways that your conscious brain has little to no control over.

Firing Squad or Suicide Squad?

I first became aware of “politics” when I was ten years old, watching the Vietnam war, and the protests of the Vietnam war on my teevee.

In the 41 years since then I have watched the Democratic party fold, cave, capitulate, chicken out, take dives, sell out, panic, flee, and openly kiss the ass of the Republican party and its Criminals like Reagan and War Criminals like Bush.

They have sold out not just “the base” but every goddam American so many goddam times it is impossible to keep count, let alone remember every incident. All for no good reason.

Unless of course you call Corporate patronage and special interest bribe money good reasons.

And now, unsurprisingly, they are doing it again, this time in new and creative ways. Who could have anticipated that they would come up with a plan to regulate the bankers who have destroyed the economy for working and middle class Americans by making those bankers stronger? By making them even bigger, when the problem was supposedly that they were too big?

Who could have anticipated that they would come up with a plan to “reform” the Health Care system that has also wrecked the economy AND is causing deaths for profit….by passing a law that says every American has to pay some sort of homage to those very same, unregulated and and Anti-trust protected Insurance companies who again….are the very folks who created the problem.

It simply boggles the mind.



Good God, I haven’t been able to pull myself away from the swift undercurrent of depression long enough to get seriously pissed at anything but “healthcare reform” (what a fucking joke lately), but this article on HuffPo awoke the beast within:

Senator Chuck Schumer forgot to check his dirty mouth for a flight on Sunday.

The New York senator was overheard calling a female flight attendant a “bitch” after she insisted that he shut off his cellphone so the plane could take off.

A Republican aide who witnessed the incident claims Schumer muttered the insult to none other than Senator Kirsten Gillibrand.

According to Politico, who first reported the story, the aide quotes Schumer as saying, “It’s Harry Reid calling. I guess health care will have to wait until we land.”

Schumer’s spokesman later apologized for the incident, say that the senator “made an off-the-cuff comment under his breath that he shouldn’t have made, and he regrets it.”

So lemme get this straight, Schumer:

FDR warned about Economic Royalists — Looks like he’s STILL RIGHT!

Economic Royalists:

President Franklin D. Roosevelt, in his speech accepting the Democratic nomination for a second term, delivered at Philadelphia on 27 June 1936, said, “The economic royalists complain that we seek to overthrow the institutions of America. What they really complain of is that we seek to take away their power. Our allegiance to American institutions requires the overthrow of this kind of power.”

(emphasis added)…

How about a “Case Study” using a recent history of their HandiWork … and their apparent Victory — AGAIN!

New Media, Race Relations, and the Power of Storytelling

Originally posted by Will Urquhart at Sum of Change

There was a moment in Deanna Zandt’s speech at the Organizing 2.0 conference that I wanted to highlight:

Fry It Again Sam Sell Me a Future

CT search involves the risk of “viruses” magically appearing on my computer.  This particular on comes in the form of a popup saying let us scan…..Ctrl alt delete didn’t work so hard shut off was required.  The the usual three hours of undoing the damage.

The total data mining marketing program count was 172.  I wonder what they thought of my internet “purchasing” habits.  They try to sell me everything amounting to nothing.  What do I want?  A future.

Open Disgust


Why fighting Obama-bots on DK is a waste of time

These are people that cannot handle truth–it’s simply too depressing for them.

People there are dying for any excuse to support the American system as it is.  

Eventually, they’ll find one.

Then they’ll get disillusioned again, as reality surfaces.

Rinse Repeat

They’ve been doing this for years and years–since the start of blogging, in fact.

When the Dems voted for the Afghan war.

And the Iraq war.

And all the supplementals.

When they won the house, and nothing changed, they found an excuse.

When they won the Senate–and still nothing changed, they found an excuse.

And now with all three branches–excuse after excuse. And for the currently disillusioned–that’s only temporary.

Because they want to believe–in fact they need to or their whole America first world view goes poof.

You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it think.

The reason for this isn’t about Obama or Obama-Bots, although let’s face it-he was a brilliant choice to star in this play.  It’s because most of these people still believe in the myths of Americana they were taught in school, that are re-enforced daily on tv, in the echo chamber that is modern blogging (where any diversity of opinion can be wiped off of their lcd screeens by 10 like minded ‘bots’ giving a neg rating) .  You can’t fight all that. Not on their turf-with all the rules set against you.  

The real battle for American hearts and minds starts long before bots become bots in the first place. It starts in the schools, the churches, the TVs that their sat in front of at age 2.  It starts with the made in Texas, government approved Houghton-Mifflin textbooks they’re forced to regurgitate from age 5 onwards to age 18, age 22, or more.

It starts with an educational system that rewards puking up a canned answer, over careful thought.  And one that has largely entrenched the military into the schools.

The Republican and neo liberalist idealists know this–this is why they’ve attacked all these primary systems for years–schools, churches, non-profits, local government, military, and so on.  This is where the battle lines are drawn-the real world.   And the attitudes one faces are indoctrinated in, from an early age.

Why techno-fixes won’t solve the eco-problem by themselves

My last diary brought up the idea of global solidarity around the idea of global solidarity across classes as a necessary framework for the solution of the abrupt climate change problem.  But invariably when I write such diaries I encounter those who think a techno-fix will solve the problem of abrupt climate change by itself.  Society need not change; some new gadget will come along to solve the abrupt climate change problem, and we just need to wait until the world’s nerds invent such a gadget, and all of our eco-problems will be solved.  This diary intends to examine the arguments against such an assertion.

(crossposted at Orange)

Adult Behavior is the Best Antidote to Moral Panic

A recently released survey stated what many of us had long suspected, namely that the sexting hysteria is vastly exaggerated.  Sexting is merely the latest in a series of overwrought histrionics to consume and articulate the fears of parents.  Before that it was rainbow parties.  Before that it was sex bracelets.  Nothing inflames passions more than the mortal fear that children are being led astray by a culture of evil that is growing more corrupt by the microsecond.  This degree of hysteria never stops at those we deem most vulnerable, which is a big part of the problem.  In a massive rush to judgment, we impose our will without understanding the context.

To provide a bit of needed contrast, here are a couple examples of past moral panics, which at least to these eyes seem as though they could easily make their way onto today’s cable news cycle.

In Victorian Britain, campaigning journalist William Thomas Stead, (editor of the Pall Mall Gazette) procured a 13 year-old girl for £5, an amount then equal to a labourer’s monthly wage (see the Eliza Armstrong case). Panic over the “traffic in women” rose to a peak in England in the 1880s. At the time, white slavery was a natural target for defenders of public morality and crusading journalists. The ensuing outcry led to the passage of antislavery legislation in Parliament.

However, it has been reported that the most extreme claims “were almost certainly exaggerated”. Investigations of alleged abductions in Victorian England often found that the purported “victims” had participated voluntarily. Still, the “climate of prudery” prevalent in the late Victorian era made for easy scandalization of almost anything sexual, and various prohibitions were enacted. (emphasis mine) Parliament passed the 1885 Criminal Law Amendment Act, raising the age of consent from thirteen to sixteen in that year.

This is, of course, not to say that the fervor over the sex trafficking which continues today has no basis in reality or fact, but rather that once something this patently inflammatory comes to light, for every genuine instance worthy of outrage, someone jumps on board the train to make a profit or to grab the attention of a ravenous public.  (See Woods, Tiger, et al.)  Nor is this meant to somehow negate the hard work or passion of activists in our age who do us all a great service by voicing and reporting upon the human trafficking of women that occurs on a far too frequent basis.  What I am saying is that the real instances of oppression are damaging enough and shocking enough without the need of clearly fabricated cases that effectively bring the matter to a raging boil.  When even one eventually disproved example enters the picture, many people have a tendency to lose interest or to discount the entire movement as a whole.  All of that hard work for nothing.  This may not be fair, but it is the reality any group clamoring for reform must entertain.  

Not only that, laws that are enacted to pacify massive societal outcry often find themselves being used for nefarious purposes that their original intent never implied, nor intended.  

In our country, a similar panic broke out around the same time as that of the UK.

A subsequent scare occurred in the United States in the early twentieth century, peaking in 1910, when Chicago’s U.S. attorney announced (without giving details) that an international crime ring was abducting young girls in Europe, importing them, and forcing them to work in Chicago brothels. These claims, and the panic they inflamed, led to the passage of the United States White-Slave Traffic Act of 1910. It also banned the interstate transport of females for immoral purposes. Its primary intent was to address prostitution and immorality. The act is better known as the Mann Act, after James Robert Mann, an American lawmaker.

The Mann Act was frequently used as a blanket piece of legislation to deliberately ensnare those who happened to defy existing social mores or who spoke out publicly against the status quo.  Though usually used to prosecute men involved with loose women or who pursued relationships with underage girls, prosecutors rarely stopped there.  Jack Johnson, the World Heavyweight Champion of his age and first Black sports superhero, was unfairly prosecuted under the Mann Act because of his fondness for white women, particularly prostitutes.  Though Johnson’s dalliances were consensual and not adulterous, he never made any attempt to conceal them, which many a conservative figure found odorous and deplorable.  As an aside,

In September, 2008, sixty-two years after Johnson’s death, the United States Congress passed a resolution to recommend that the President grant a pardon for his 1913 conviction, in acknowledgment of its racist overtones, and in order to exonerate Johnson and recognize his contribution to boxing. In April 2009, Senator John McCain of Arizona joined Representative Peter T. King of New York in a call for a posthumous pardon for the boxing legend by President Barack Obama.

Charlie Chaplin’s unashamed leftist views led him to be indicted under the auspices of the Mann Act, damaging his reputation and leading him to leave the United States to live in exile in Switzerland for the rest of his life.  The Mann Act seems to be an equal opportunity offender of sorts, since even women found themselves on the wrong side of the law, as Canadian author Elizabeth Smart found out in the 1940’s.  One would have thought by now that we would have learned that legislating morality is both a very bad idea and quite impossible.  Still, some persist in pushing it, even though the end result almost always backfires.        

Going back to the idea of protecting children and teenagers by way of communal panicked cry, gallons of ink, and legion of self-proclaimed experts in the field, I think at times many of us believe that while we might not be able to control our own impulses or desires or even control the forces which push us in directions we do not wish to go, we can at least assert our force of will upon our children or, for that matter, someone else’s children.  However, that is a very dangerous and deeply unfair assertion upon which to base any act, because it completely removes free will from the equation.  The Mann Act might have been crafted to protect women at face value, but it ended up being applied in the same ways and to the same extent that keep women from having control over their own bodies or from being able to make their own decisions for themselves.  This condescendingly Paternalist point of view persists into our day and the sexting nontroversy is part and parcel of it.  If only we could, in all seriousness, claim that we know better.

Simply because adolescents aren’t legal adults yet doesn’t mean that they can’t make informed, healthy choices for themselves.  Teens are probably much more inclined to use their sexuality in responsible ways then we give them credit for, but instead we are consumed with the ones who don’t.  This would be like believing all citizens of a country are exactly like its law-breakers.  Furthermore, it’s a myth that adults are somehow supremely evolved enough that they don’t end up exhibiting childish behavior on a frequent basis.  We like to believe otherwise, of course, but all one needs to do is read the first ten comments on any web forum and that assertion flies right out the window.  No troll I have ever met could ever be confused as mature and rational.  Many of them are likely older than I am, and I’m merely pushing 30.  The superficial facade we display to the world outside of the internet apparently stops the instant we log on and start typing madly away.          

A quote from the movie American Beauty has stuck with me over the years.  In it, Lester Burnham, Kevin Spacey’s character, describes the struggles of his rebellious daughter, Jane.

Janie’s a pretty typical teenager. Angry, insecure, confused. I wish I could tell her that’s all going to pass, but I don’t want to lie to her.

True.  But it doesn’t mean we have to linger in a state of arrested development, either.  Immediately after I reflect upon this quote, a very familiar refrain comes to mind, one that has grown truer and truer with every passing year.

When I was a child, I spoke like a child, thought like a child, and reasoned like a child. When I became an adult, I no longer used childish ways.  Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.

Trust, love, respect, hope, faith, empathy, and compassion.  These are adult traits and these are virtues which promise not just the assumption of the mantle of adulthood, but bring us into greater community with our fellow person.  Once having adopted these things, there is no need for moral panic.  Upon living them, there is understanding in the place of fear, love in the place of hate, shared purpose in the place of division, trust in the place of suspicion, and compassion in the place of anger.  I would hope that we would wish to negate the charges of hypocrisy slung back and forth like some unceasing war with no end game ever even proposed.  The boldest example we give to our children and to other peoples’ children is our own conduct and our own behavior.  We lead by example in ways we cannot even begin to fathom.

A Realistic View of the Health Care Blowup

In two separate entries, here and here, Chris Bowers discussed what he feels are the likely consequences if the nightmare bill now in the Senate doesn’t pass.  He’s assumed the worst-case scenarios in every one of them, it seems, and is using them as an excuse to say we shouldn’t kill the health care reform bill in the Senate.

This to me is an utterly defeatist attitude to take.  We shouldn’t fight this because Rahm will run right-wing primary opponents against our people, something he’s already been doing for years and will do no matter what, and that’s why we should give up now?  With all due respect to Mr. Bowers, this is neither realistic or helpful.  I don’t think the people who are telling us we need to pass this bill realize what the public really thinks about health care reform or the likelihood that we will end up with something that will force us to buy unaffordable junk insurance under penalty of increased taxation we can’t afford to pay — all without doing a thing to bring down costs.

I think we have the Democrats by the gonads here, but how many of us really know it?  Every single member of the House is up for reelection next year, as is a third of the Senate.  Why can we not call them up and threaten to withdraw all support — money, votes, and campaign volunteers — if they don’t kill this bill and pass something acceptable, and then follow through on it?

We need leaders in the progressive movement, but we don’t seem to have any.  Not here, not at Kos, not at any of the other blogs, and certainly not in Congress (with the exception of Dennis Kucinich, but most people — even folk on the nominal left — treat him like a clown).  This too is unacceptable.  If we don’t fight this monstrosity now, what will we fight for?  The realistic scenarios are thus:

1.) Progressives roll over and the bill passes.  Rahm Emanuel runs right-wing candidates against progressives in next year’s primaries anyway.  We lose more ground because we’re not fighting and playing hardball, and the public doesn’t support politicians who don’t fight on its behalf.  Worse, there will be no fixing the law later, because Dems will probably be out of power for a good long time after next year and even if they keep it, the excuse will be that they’ve already done reform, so why bother going through another year of hell trying to pass a fix?

2.) The bill passes, but progressives are seen fighting it with everything they have to the bitter end.  The conservative Dems lose their seats, most progressives keep theirs, and therefore have a chance of increasing their numbers going into 2012.

3.) The bill fails, we get to start over from scratch.  This is not the nightmare scenario some people seem to think it is.  As early as February, polls were showing a majority of Americans in favor of single-payer health insurance (Source).  As recently as July, Kaiser polling was showing 58% support (Source), and if you go state by state, you’ll find that support is high (like in Pennsylvania).  Finally, has posted a six-part series showing that 2/3 of Americans really do support single payer or a public plan closer to it.*  So the chances of voters punishing Democrats for failing to pass a massive bailout of the insurance industry are actually quite low.  Chances are, however, quite high for retribution at the ballot box next year if Dems pass the monster as-is.  We have nothing to lose by killing the bill, and a lot to gain.

There really is nothing to be gained by giving in on the health care reform battle.  This close to an election year in which the public is good and angry, and we’re not going to seize the opportunity to force the conservative wing of the party to blink and do as we say?  If we fail to do this, then we really do deserve to be out of power.

So here’s the House Phone Directory and that of the Senate.  Call them up and demand that the insurance bailout dies a horrible flaming screaming death, and passage of something good, or else no money or votes next year.  Not one penny, not one ballot, goes to any Democrat who votes in favor of passing the bill.  We can do this.  We just need the will.

*: Here are the links to the series on single payer support.………………

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