April 26, 2011 archive

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Birtherism, The Newest Lost Cause

Now that Birtherism has become the latest cause célèbre in the public consciousness, it has progressed from a half-mad conspiracy theory to a half-baked political platform.  Once the sole purview of the reactionary Right, questioning Barack Obama’s American citizenship is now the stock in trade of would-be-politicians and public figures.  But now, having embraced this fabrication, they will live or die by it.  A long, ignoble history of similar conduct exists, particularly when an outright fallacy is believed by enough people that cynical opportunists seize fast to it to increase their own power.  I could cite any number of examples from history, but I’ll focus my attention on two.

Conquered peoples, or at least defeated peoples have a way of perpetuating and substituting legends and myths when the truth is too painful to admit.  The Dolchstoßlegende, or stab-in-the-back legend insisted that the German army lost World War I due to the betrayal of its own citizens, not opposing armies.  Fact and scholarship prove that this was a colossal lie, but the proud German people, who believed themselves nearly invincible in the field of battle did not willingly accept the reality.  And before someone calls Godwin’s Law, I will say no more on this subject.

Most appropriate for the 150th anniversary of the conflict, I note that I myself grew up something of a believer in the Lost Cause of the Confederacy.  The kind of complete destruction brought on by four years of destructive war could only be softened away by romanticism and a deliberate disregard of the facts.  Denial is a powerful force in the minds of men and women, and when it becomes collectively embraced, it is powerful still.  Those who are natives of the Southern states refuse to let the conflict go, while those in more Northern localities often cannot understand why such an emphasis is placed upon an epoch they associate more with history books.  History is written by the victors, but the defeated never forget.  So it doesn’t surprise me a bit that the epicenter of Birtherism is the South.

Six In The Morning

Mohammed says he beheaded U.S. reporter despite warnings  

Chilling portraits of Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, the self-proclaimed Sept. 11 mastermind, and other Guantanamo detainees emerge in the latest release of classified material from WikiLeaks.

Richard A. Serrano, Washington Bureau

Reporting from Washington- A senior Al Qaeda military commander strongly warned Khalid Shaikh Mohammed not to kill Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl in 2002, cautioning him “it would not be wise to murder Pearl” and that he should “be returned back to one of the previous groups who held him, or freed.”

But Mohammed told his U.S. interrogators at Guantanamo Bay that he cut off Pearl’s head anyway, according to U.S. military documents posted on the Internet on Monday by WikiLeaks.

JSOC’s trippy goatee and bongos

A pseudonymous “Mr. Y” extemporaneously raps a brand spanking new national beat poetry of “strategic ecosystems” in the pages of Foreign Policy.  

Wordle: Mr. Y

You can read about this other-worldly national strategic narrative here (pdf).  By my reading, the authors failed to substantively address the hard facts of early twenty-first century life, such as our acceleration toward the concrete abutment of carrying capacity, the fundamental breakdown of debt-dollar discipline in the “new world order,” and our complete inability to predict or control the oily regions of the world, never mind comprehending nuclear half-lives on lively tectonic zones, although to their considerable credit, they do acknowledge some of them.  

Thus, my précis, one of many umpteen equally sensible broth-reducing permutations, goes roughly as follows:

Global national security interests are strategic world values toward environmental prosperity.

It does sound vaguely better than continually, blindly, and destructively lashing out at phantom menaces and “axes of evil” as our dominance ebbs and we bleed to death on faraway sands, but without specifics, it’s about as helpful as a well-played saxophone riff in an emergency room.


Pre-Hysterical Hare

Our Casino Economy

Crossposted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

It doesn’t matter that the house always wins because hey, you might get lucky.

The Casino Next Door

How slot machines snuck into the mall, along with money laundering, bribery, shootouts, and billions in profits

By Felix Gillette, Business Week

April 21, 2011, 5:00PM EST

Jacks is about the size of a neighborhood deli. There is a bar next door and a convenience store around the corner. Inside, jumbo playing cards decorate the walls. The room is filled with about 30 desktop computers. Here and there, men and women sit in office chairs and tap at the computers. They are playing “sweepstakes” games that mimic the look and feel of traditional slot machines. Rows of symbols-cherries, lucky sevens, four-leaf clovers-tumble with every click of the mouse.

It’s a high-margin, cash-rich business. According to Mecham, each terminal at a thriving cafe typically grosses $1,000 to $5,000 per month. A medium-size business with, say, 100 machines would therefore gross around $250,000 a month, or in the ballpark of $3 million a year. All of which would suggest that in less than a decade, Internet sweepstakes cafes in the U.S. have grown into a collective $10 billion to $15 billion industry.

Customers are easy to find. Mecham says sweepstakes cafes cater primarily to two demographics: the old and the poor. “Lower-income customers are coming in because they’re bad at math,” he says. “It’s like the lottery. The lottery is a tax on people who are bad at math. They’re coming in to try and catch a big break.”

Are you sure this place is honest?

Honest? As honest as the day is long!

Muse in the Morning

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket
Muse in the Morning

Time for a break from poetry…in order to create some art.

Never do anything against conscience even if the state demands it.

–Albert Einstein

Rest 3

Late Night Karaoke

Not Ready

The sheer chaos of multiple family moving continues.  Be out in 30 days?  Yeah right, takes about two months to break a lease, get state permission for a new occupancy.   Five days to move the phone?  My second daughter unloaded a 2000 piece Best Buy truck last week, she is having (they are taking) my four grandaughter this Wednesday.  Thoughts of chivalry is dead come to mind and other idiot moves too.  Phones, internet, Comcast vs Verizon and how both suck equally but in different ways.  So, the comcast email is dies just as soon as verizon takes the phone number after the five day holding period at an “independent agency”.  And thus the very name Lasthorseman dies along with the passwords, sites visited are gone.  The non-PC rants, the horses, the Apocalypse CT watch and the grandkid stories will vanish as soon as I have to request the new passwords I am to old to remember.  I once ran for selectman in my local community but I now seek to hide from it.  Not wanting to participate in the neuvo-fascism of the Gattica world “we/they” are fast building.

Japans nukes are not going away anytime soon and if that were not bad enough conventional doom is evident.


On Happy-ing Their Gilmores, Or, Will Body Bags Be The New Gold Watch?

We are continuing a recent theme here today in which two of my favorite topics are going to converge: Social Security and in-your-face political activism.

I have been encouraging folks to take advantage of the recent Congressional recess to have a few words with your CongressCritter about the proposed Death Of Medicare and all the proposed cuts to Social Security…and you have, as we’ll discuss…and now we have an opportunity to do something on a national scale, just as we did a few weeks ago in support of Social Security.

This time, we’re going to concentrate on fighting the idea that retirement ages should go up before we become eligible for Social Security and Medicare (and elements of Medicaid, as well), and that Americans should just keep right on working until the age of 67 or so-which isn’t going to be any big problem…really…trust us.

Now that just makes no sense, and to help make the point we have a really cool video that you can pass around to all your friends-and your enemies, for that matter, since they’ll also have to worry about what happens to them if they should ever make it to old age.  

Today on The Stars Hollow Gazette

Our regular featured content-

our weekly feature-

and these featured articles-

The Stars Hollow Gazette

This is an Open Thread