Time to Climb Off the Carousel

Liberal, Libertarian, Conservative—Just Going Round in Circles

Liberal, Libertarian, Conservative—Just Going Round in Circles

You’ve probably learned by now that political labels in American politics are primarily for assigning blame, whether due or not. That’s why I decided to not to write any more outrage pieces on my blog site. It was too easy to react to stupid things the other side was saying.

Oh, I’m still a Democrat, but as my hero Will Rogers once said: “I am not a member of any organized party—I am a Democrat.” But I do not accept phone calls from any political party. And I’ve contacted the Democratic fund raisers who were bombarding my e-mail to stop it. Of course, Republicans and Libertarians know better than to try to contact me for any reason. I have my doubts about Democrats (a.k.a. The Circular Firing Squad), but I like the other guys even less. I figure that if Faux News has something good to say about anybody, they’re probably a serial child molester and would-be tyrant.

Do I consider myself a Liberal? Not really. Fiscally, I’m a bit on the Conservative side. My goal is not to see the Federal, State, and Local governments all spend themselves into bankruptcy; but I think that we can’t neglect the poor, the way that many troglodyte Conservatives advocate.

All the political labels have resulted only in a lot of Americans hating one another solely for their stated political affiliation. I’d prefer to judge people on the way they act.

 

Terrorism Made Easy

What Would I Do If I Were a Terrorist?

What Would I Do If I Were a Terrorist?

What if I were one of the black hats for ISIS, ISIL, or whatever they’re calling themselves this week, I would have the world gelid with fear at relatively little cost to myself. Let’s face it, the “Dark Side” is a powerful draw for disaffected young people around the world. One can get an almost endless supply of young Arabs, Americans, Europeans, and Canadians who would be willing to blow themselves up—and take any number of innocent victims with them.

Given the way the news media around the world operate, any single incident is multiplied as if with endless mirrors for weeks at a time. Look at Benghazi: It’s still going strong for over two years. Then there’s the occasional beheading of an American or a European, interspersed with car bombs at Shia shrines. It doesn’t take much to have Faux News and their imitators spinning their heads in unison with a warning siren at max volume. One dire incident shades into another, and with relatively little effort, the whole thing looks like its continuous dripping evil spreading all over the world.

Great Symbolism! Really Evil!

Great Symbolism! Really Evil!

I’m not telling the terrorists what they don’t already know. The reach of our media stretches around the globe, so the bad guys know exactly how frightened, ill-informed, and chickenshit we are. I would not be surprised if the world spends ten trillion dollars in the next couple of months trying to eliminate ISIS or some other terrorist group de jour. In the process we are actually arming them.

Isn’t that what judo is all about—using your opponents’ strength against them? Hijacking their weapons while deciding on the next terrorist incident to occupy the news media, their anchors, pundits, and wingnut entertainers.

I must say: It’s really quite elegant.

 

The Republic of Fear

So You Really Think You’re Going to Catch Ebola?

So You Really Think You’re Going to Catch Ebola? I Wouldn’t Bet on It!

The news is all about fear. Fear sells. People keep coming back for more because their fear builds until it warps their decision-making process. The various news channels cannot sell soap unless they put you in a fearful state of mind. One of the reasons I do not watch the news on television—ever—is that I have no wish to be manipulated.

I am going to ask myself several questions just to give you my take on several issues in the news:

  1. Am I afraid of contracting ebola? Not at all. The only thing I might do if I have to fly somewhere while this outbreak lasts is to wear gloves and a surgical face mask during the duration of the flight.
  2. Do I think that ISIS (or ISIL or whatever) will try something in our country? Probably. We are trying to bomb them to pieces and that probably doesn’t sit too well with them, so I expect they’ll try something along the lines of our own domestic terrorists with bombs or other devices. Am I afraid of them? Not particularly. I think they’re enjoying a brief ascendancy in Syria and Iraq before even the Sunnis try to shut them down.
  3. Are My Children Going to Be Shot Dead by Crazed Gunmen? As I don’t have any children, the fear is somewhat remote for me. But are your children going to be shot dead by crazed gunmen? That is a distinct possibility, as we are doing nothing to keep guns out of the hands of homicidal idiots.
  4. Are Weird Storms Going to Level Our Cities and Towns? Oh, you can bet on it. Curiously, most of these storms occur in areas where people disbelieve that we can affect climate change. “Nice, nice, very nice, so many people in the same device.” (Read Kurt Vonnegut’s Cat’s Cradle to understand the quote.)

At least once a year, I quote the Bene Gesserit litany from Frank Herbert‘s Dune on the subject of fear:

I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain.

So before you switch on Faux News, you might want to think twice. Don’t believe what various pundits and experts try to tell you. Occasionally they tell the truth, but only on the sixth Friday of every month. Even the newspaper can discombobulate you. Be skeptical. Be very skeptical. People make lots of money by trying to lie to you. Don’t let them get away with it.

Practice living fearlessly. I went to Peru on my lonesome and spent three weeks traveling among people who did not speak the same language as me or think the way I think. It’s good practice, actually.

 

Letting Entertainers Control Your Thinking?

They Make Money from Your Indecision

They Make Money from Your Indecision

We live in a country in which we increasingly let paid entertainers do our thinking for us. As a result, we are advocating our favorite stand-ins against the entertainers we don’t like. It could be as simple as watching Jon Stewart or Stephen Colbert, laughing, and leaving the whole argument as, “What you said!” Or it could be as nefarious as chewing our fingernails in fear listening to Glenn Beck (above) or Sean Hannity and going to bed angry.

Remember: These people are all well-paid entertainers. They aim at a particular demographic and work on them so as to keep them coming back for more.

I used to be very upset with these fake pundits, particularly those on the right. If you go back and look at my earlier postings are the tags “conservatives,” “republicans,” or “tea-party,” you will find that I had spent a lot of time getting exercised by people who were just doing what they were paid to do. Rush Limbaugh doesn’t care whether I hate his guts, no more than the actors who played James Bond villains like Auric Goldfinger or Ernst Stavro Blofeld care whether audiences detested them. These guys are all paid villains. It’s what they do for a living.

To uneducated yokels who have been “left behind” in dying rural areas, they are calls to action coming as if from the mouths of angels. Scores of our fellow Americans have been killed because people with a tenuous grasp on their sanity have decided to pick up their guns and take direct action. Rush didn’t tell them to shoot anybody. Glenn didn’t do it, nor did Sean. Even Wayne La Pierre of the NRA didn’t give his blessing. They’re innocent of all wrongdoing, while these poor loonies are surprised that people not only hate and fear them (instead of showering them with candy and flowers) but want to see them receive the maximum punishment.

The danger of using stand-ins to do all our thinking for us is that we could make the mistake of thinking the whole world believes in what their particular set of entertainers say. When they suddenly discover how divided we are, it could come as a serious shock.

So, Democrats, watch Faux News for a while just to see the snake oil that is being sold to the feeble-minded. And wingnuts, stay up late and watch Stephen Colbert or Bill Maher just to see that people may think differently from you.

Take away those blinders, and see the mess we’re in!

 

The Pendulum Swings Both Ways

The SCOTUS Retards: Thomas and Scalia

The SCOTUS Retards: Thomas and Scalia

Although I am by no means a Communist, I have a certain belief in dialectics. Somethings happens (THESIS), opposition emerges (ANTITHESIS), and finally some sort of compromise solution emerges (SYNTHESIS). With the McCutcheon vs. FEC case just concluded, the U.S. Supreme Court gives wealthy individuals the right to in effect donate as much money as they want to the party or issue of their choice through SuperPACs which redistribute the funds. Although they still cannot write a megacheck directly to a particular candidate, I’m sure that won’t be long in coming.

What the so-called 1% (actually, a much smaller percent that) don’t realize is the hatred and opposition they are sowing. The superwealthy and the corporate elite have succeeded in infiltrating and gutting a major political party’but not without hard feelings. The more they ride roughshod over the feelings of American voters, the more likely there is to be a reckoning of some sort to redress the balance. There will be no Thousand Year Reich for the likes of Sherman Adelson and the Koch Brothers. They may be at their apogee wight now in terms of influence, but angry crowds are massing in front of the Bastille, and with luck their efforts will be taken apart brick by brick.

I am convinced that many or perhaps even most viewers of the Faux News channel are aware that the fix is in and are just waiting for the right time to cast their vote.

At least, I hope so.

Not To Be Trusted

It’s No Longer Just a Problem With Faux News

It’s No Longer Just a Problem With Faux News and Their Barbie Doll Megyn Kelly

Oh what a mighty fall has television news suffered! We are decades away from the “good” news programs from the likes of Walter Cronkite, Huntley/Brinkley, Eric Sevareid, Peter Jennings, and others. That’s when the news was the news, and not just a subsidiary of a corporate egomaniac who wants his own opinions reflected in the stories that are presented. Faux News is the classic example of news that is so colored by Rupert Murdoch and his hand puppet Roger Ailes that it is all but useless if someone wants something other than right-wing nut-job agitprop.

Today, anyone who wants to know what is truly happening must avoid most television and radio news media like the plague. I still rely somewhat on National Public Radio (NPR), but even they are being chipped away at by the forces of GOP/Tea. To get my news, I use a variety of sources, including some left-leaning ones which, in their own way, are not always trustworthy (as for example RawStory.Com). TruthDig.Com is pretty good, especially in the articles by Chris Hedges, but I think their views are too progressive for me.

I am indebted to Jackhole’s Realm for the Megyn Kelly picture above.

 

News On Demand

A Horrific Video of Bashar’s Jets Bombing a Village Filled with Refugees

A Horrific Video of Bashar’s Jets Bombing a Village Filled with Refugees

You don’t have to watch Faux News any more to find out what’s going on in the world. Salon.Com has published a link to Ifiles, which contains links to investigative reporting you may not get when you watch rancid sausage being squeezed through Sean Hannity’s lips. I was entranced by two videos currently available:

The first is almost half an hour long and shows footage of a bombing raid by Bashar al-Assad’s air force on the village of al-Bara in the north of Syria. Some dozen or two people were buried under rubble when two heavy bombs hit within 400 meters of each other. Typically, the jets make one pass, and loop around and return about 15-20 minutes later, when a crowd has gathered to dig out the victims of the first blast. We owe this frightening footage to FRONTLINE reporter Olly Lambert, who does a great job showing us the panic and the community spirit of people trying frantically to help one another when they don’t have the wherewithal to do so effectively.

The second was an amusing commentary on the failures of international reporters to get to the bottom of one continuing story: Somali piracy on the high seas. Naturally, it’s too dangerous to go to Somalia; so reporters are going to Kenya and interviewing enterprising Africans (some of whom are in fact Somalis) pretending to be pirates. This way the news media get their story, and the “pirates” get some money to support themselves in their nefarious venture. These pretend pirates have probably never even been in a boat.

 

 

The Dancing Plague of 1518

Engraving by Hendrik Hondius of Three Women Affected by the Plague

History is full of strange byways and seemingly unsolvable mysteries. Why is it that, for a period of hundreds of years during the Dark Ages, the Middle Ages, and into the Renaissance, there were outbreaks of dancing fever. During these outbreaks people started dancing and kept dancing until they dropped dead, some of them from strokes and heart attacks, others from sheer exhaustion.

The worst outbreak is recorded in Strasbourg, Alsace, during the year 1518. The city fathers even hired musicians in hopes that the dancers would dance until they got tired and just stop. But many did not stop, and these died. Although I do not have the mortality figures from the Strasbourg incident, one source indicates that up to 400 people were involved in the frenzy.

According to Edward Waller, a Professor at Michigan State University, and author of a book entitled A Time to Dance, a Time to Die: The Extraordinary Story of the Dancing Plague of 1518, has examined all the evidence and, according to Discovery.Com, concluded as follows:

A series of famines, resulting from bitter cold winters, scorching summers, sudden crop frosts and terrifying hailstorms, preceded the maniacal dancing, Waller said. Waves of deaths followed from malnutrition. People who survived were often forced to slaughter all of their farm animals, secure loans and finally, take to the streets begging.

Smallpox, syphilis, leprosy and even a new disease known as “the English sweat” swept through the area.

“Anxiety and false fears gripped the region,” Waller said.

One of these fears, originating from a Christian church legend, was that if anyone provoked the wrath of Saint Vitus, a Sicilian martyred in 303 A.D., he would send down plagues of compulsive dancing.

Waller therefore believes a phenomenon known as “mass psychogenic illness,” a form of mass hysteria usually preceded by intolerable levels of psychological distress, caused the dancing epidemic.

If there is a scientific reason, why have there been no outbreaks in Europe dating from the time that the Christian religion ceased to play such an important part in the lives of the people? The anxiety and fears are still present to some degree. (Isn’t that why some people vote Republican?) But the religious trigger is absent.

According to the Discover.Com website cited above, there have been similar outbreaks in Africa as recently as the twentieth century, and even a strange reaction in Belgium involving hysteria over soft-drink consumption.

Now I know that, if Romney is somehow elected President, the ultimate cause will be a mass psychogenic illness caused by Karl Rove, Faux News, and Republican spin doctors.

Joe Will Clean Your Clock

VP Joe Biden

I am beginning to think that we have a very good Vice President indeed! Joe Biden cleaned Paul Ryan’s clock so thoroughly that the Faux News network (the one run by Rupert Merde-Duck) is lining up fake experts to claim that, far from winning the debate, he has dementia, is drunk, or “on, like, 18 lines of cocaine.” That’s high praise from such an unscrupulous opponent.

Now I think that is quite a tribute from the Republican noise machine. If you are a Democrat and do your job particularly well, the Faux noise machine will emit a high-pitched wail of compressed and variegated slander. Joseph Goebbels would have been so proud of Roger Ailes.

At one time, I wished for a Democrat equivalent to Murdoch and Ailes’s Republican propaganda network, but now I think that would not be such a good idea. Democrats are not so united as the Republicans, because we Democrats have a wide range of opinions, such that we frequently resemble a circular firing squad. Always, the most effective propaganda comes from totalitarian sources. Over time, they will end of smearing themselves so badly that people will just turn away from them.

In the meantime, we will have more patently false news stories with blatantly slanderous accusations. How many people are there who actually think that Faux News is “fair and balanced”? Al Franken laid that old chestnut to bed with his book Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them and the ensuing lawsuit which embarrassed the so-called news channel.

Photo Credit: The above photo is from Rolling Stone’s website.