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Monthly Archives: April 2013

The Guys In The White Hats Aren’t Always The Good Guys

Bartcop, one of my all time favorite bloggers, recently had an exchange on his page with a reader who was feeling disillusioned because he was starting to realize that America wasn’t always motivated by altruism when it decided to intervene in the internal affairs of other countries.  Being me, I naturally felt the need to stick my two cents worth in and did so thusly:

Bart:  You were very forthright in defense of the U.S. in reply to the guy who wrote we’ve always been the bad guys and I hope you’ll allow me to be the same.

While it’s not by any means certain that we were always the bad guys a study of the dozens of “minor” wars we became involved in during the late 19th and early 20th centuries… in fact right up to and even beyond WWII… we have very often definitely been carrying the water for bad guys and though the methods and immediate circumstances have changed some, still do so.

A suggested read on the subject of the 20th century “banana wars” would be “War Is A Racket” by USMC Major General Smedley D. Butler, who managed to fight in virtually every damned one of those fracases, receiving multiple purple hearts and two… count ’em, TWO… Congressional Medals of Honor for his efforts in what history has come to see as minor skirmishes with wild eyed Bolsheviks intent on destroying our way of life from their tent city HQ on some Central American banana plantation.  You said:

 America has semi-run the world over the last 60-70 years.  Think how different the world would be if it was run by Hitler or Stalin or Pol Pot or Kim Jon Dung or Idi Amin or Saddam or Gadaffy – get my point?.  Also, a lot of other countries don’t aloow the truth to be taught at their schools and every newspaper and TV show is run by the government.  As evil as man can be, America could be a LOT worse.

America HAS pretty much run the world since the end of WWII but the simple fact is that as DDE warned us back in the 60s, it has done so mainly for the benefit of our Military/Industrial Complex and Wall Street and multinational corporations, using our military power… in much the same we it was used during the first three decades of the 20th century to bolster the fortunes of American business interests in other countries.

As for those guys you named off, sure there’s little to no doubt that the world would have fared worse under all those people and I could probably add a dozen more to the list just off the top of my head but so what?  They DIDN’T wind up running the world, we did and that doesn’t necessarily mean that we’ve run it with the best interests of that world at heart.

And Jeebus knows, in our march to outright Fascism, we’re right smack in the middle of banning the truth from our schools on an almost daily basis, especially in the states comprising the new Confederacy,the war on science and for the substitution of religious dogma for scientific fact also goes on daily and our newspapers and TV networks might not be run by the government but they are damned sure owned and controlled by those same Wall Street corporations mentioned above and for whom our government STILL carries the water (while still retaining the pay and perks they supposedly get for serving OUR best interests).

I personally see faint praise for this country’s past leadership when someone says, “That wasn’t nice.”, and the best response we can come up with is, “someone else would have been worse.”.  A lot of people are suddenly realizing that Native Americans weren’t all brute savages, the “cowboys” didn’t all wear white hats, the guy fighting for a right to make a decent living picking Dole’s bananas wasn’t always a wild eyed commie bomb thrower who was going to walk to LA and kill our kids AND… we weren’t always the good guys.

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Posted by on April 25, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

As Twitter Goes, So Goes The Country

I know this blog thing has been hit or miss… if you can call a blog that has few hits and isn’t missed by anybody that… lately but once again I’ve simply lost sight of where I wanted to go with it.  I blame it on Twitter of course.  Everybody blames everything on Twitter. And Facebook, but I don’t express my opinions on Facebook.  Whatever, it’s time to get off the Social Networking as a means to political ends meme and get back on track yet again and see what I can do about staying there this time, the “track” being one of opposition the corporate takeover of the United Stats and the degeneration of the country into just another failed quasi-fascist feudal state. 

The problem with that is that the potential social networking had for being perhaps the greatest tool for societal advancement in history… at least before the Wall Street barons sent the dogs out to get all the mainstream sheep herded back together in their individual little groups and gaggles and marginalize or even demonize those who still cling to the tattered shreds of individuality and free thought that caused them to be social outliers in the first place… has pretty much been negated by not only the mindless bickering and fighting between factions but the just as mindless bickering and infighting between people who are supposedly part of the same faction and therefore on the same “side”.

It’s not easy being a person without a party or even any real ideology to subscribe to in a system that practically DEMANDS one be a part of some group, clique or cult.  This is what happens when we are so busy arguing among ourselves about which group we should or shouldn’t belong to we allow our supposed public servants to become our rulers and abdicate our responsibility for governing ourselves to the elites that… like turds… always manage to float to the top in any society when the people get fat and lazy.

The tendency of modern Americans to band together in easily manipulated little herds is perhaps nowhere more apparent than on Twitter.  Not only is Twitter a microcosm of society at large, it’s where entire political movements consisting of huge numbers of what we called rubes back in the old days gather in their groups and herds, all of them just waiting for some Elmer Gantry style “guru” to come along and “bring them together” into one humungous group and tell them how to organize and channel their passions in the name of that almighty group. The free thinking individuality and self sufficiency that did much to build this country has been largely bred out of a lazy and self satisfied population.  

We Americans are never satisfied with mere human beings as our public figures.  These days, we have to have people we can place on pedestals and not just respect and look up to but outright worship and idolize.  If some if the idols we set up turn out to have feet of clay once we’ve set them up there, we’ll not only overlook that but we’ll go totally postal and destroy anyone who attempts to point it out because that person is committing two cardinal sins.  He or she is casting aspersions upon our particular idol of course but also daring to offer thoughts and opinions that “go against the grain” or more bluntly, failing to conform to the collective opinion of the group. 

This mental or ideological collectivism is often referred to as Groupthink which is defined thusly by Wikipedia:

Groupthink is a psychological phenomenon that occurs within a group of people, in which the desire for harmony or conformity in the group results in an incorrect or deviant decision-making outcome. Group members try to minimize conflict and reach a consensus decision without critical evaluation of alternative ideas or viewpoints, and by isolating themselves from outside influences.

Loyalty to the group requires individuals to avoid raising controversial issues or alternative solutions, and there is loss of individual creativity, uniqueness and independent thinking. The dysfunctional group dynamics of the “ingroup” produces an “illusion of invulnerability” (an inflated certainty that the right decision has been made). Thus the “ingroup” significantly overrates their own abilities in decision-making, and significantly underrates the abilities of their opponents (the “outgroup”).

Twitter has never lacked for shepherds ready and willing to take on ‘responsibility” for the flock and they range from A) those who have managed to build little rock star cults around themselves replete with their little bands of groupies who faithfully retweet anything and everything they robotweet and tell them constantly how wonderful they are, right on out to Z) a major cult built around the President of The United States in which he is held in esteem of biblical proportions and the firmest requirement for anyone daring to express an opinion on something he might or might not have done is that “Ye shall speak no evil of our president no matter what he says or does“.  And of course, anything and everything between those two points.

The one common thread in all these semi cult like groups, from the mini idol who turns out to be a convicted major felon to the president himself who often tends to adopt positions that during the last administration would have been considered by his own groupies as decidedly right wing, is that any slightest inkling of opposition to any of these people or any actions carried out by them will bring instant retaliation from their adoring worshipers and sycophants. 

Most often of course, the retaliation will take the form of hateful little tweets and moronic little hashtag zingers.  Or that used to be the case before people came along with the knowledge and the tools to exploit the differences between these various groups for financial gain.  Now it’s a whole new ballgame. Now the war is just as intense between the cliques and subfactions… at least among Democrats (I don’t DO right wing sites)… as it is with the opposing faction itself.

In a future installment we’ll be talking about the NEW style of Twitter guru… the ones who use loopholes and specialized tools unavailable to regular Twitterites to “organize” members… to get their sheep ducks all in a row and gain financially from the bunker mentality of the members of the almighty group and the need to marginalize or demonize any of the “outriders” who don’t conform.  In doing so we of course run the risk of arousing the wrath of the groupies but then I’ve never considered the opinions of groupies as relevant to much beyond the blind adoration of whoever they’re groupies for anyway. 

 
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Posted by on April 25, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

Open Letter To Congress: You Are NOT America’s “Nobility”

Ladies & Gentlemen:

As one of your employers it has come to my attention that there are certain things going on during the course of your employment with our organization that need to be straightened out before they’ve gone too far to reverse, which I fear may already be the case in some of them.

Perhaps the first thing you all need is a stern reminder of who you work for.  We seem to have arrived at a situation that can only be described as the tail not only wagging the dog but attempting to shake it to smithereens. I’m sure you’ll all agree when I say that this can not be allowed to continue.

You were not hired to rule this country, you were hired to represent the people of this country and I’m quite sure that even the most ignorant among you are capable of grasping that distinction.  Well, except for Jim Inhofe, who would require several years of intense tutoring to have the IQ of a brick but that’s a problem for the just as brain dead people in Oklahoma that keep voting for him.

This whole business of fancy limousines, first class air travel, unlimited credit cards and million dollar a year expense accounts has obviously gone to the heads of many of you, creating inflated self images that require continuous infusions of large amounts of cash for their care and upkeep.  To that end, many of you have sought and received sources of additional income that far exceed anything we poor taxpayers can afford and this has inevitably led to a major paradigm shift in your allegiance and loyalty to those who can afford to pay the most for it.

Most if not all of you have managed to amass fortunes all out of proportion to the salaries and benefits you receive for representing your constituents, perhaps the prime example Mitchbeing Senator Addison Mitchell McConnell (R-Koch Bros), who has managed an average take of roughly a million dollars a year over his nearly 30 years of “service” while never once doing anything that was of any significant benefit to either the people of Kentucky or the citizens of the country as a whole. Mr. McConnell (left) could serve as the poster boy for cheap grifters with no redeeming social value , his venality exceeding even that of that of Sarah Palin and the message sent to the rest of the country by his home state of Kentucky, having rewarded his almost defiantly open embrace of graft and corruption with five terms in the senate to continue amassing his personal fortune at the expense of just about everyone else, is not one to be taken lightly. 

I would suggest that if they return him to office yet again in 2014, the rest of us either force the State of Kentucky to secede or, barring that particular form of self deportation, cut off all federal funding to the state and let them seek to do without the money they rake in from the federal government they profess to hate and which exceeds the amount they pay in taxes. 

After all, if we can’t support our immigrant communities who actually work and pay taxes and contribute to our society, why should we support an entire state full of deadbeats who take more than they give and who inflict people like Mr. McConnell and Rand Paul on the rest of us as a matter of routine?

And please, spare us any self righteous bullshit.  What I just said about Mr. McConnell applies to each and every one of you to some degree or other.  Every one of you has, immediately upon taking office, set yourself up as some petty little noble ruling over a personal little fiefdom and spewing little more than contempt and disdain for the “rabble” who labor under the mistaken impression that you work for them.  Some of you may not yet have developed the “eff you” attitude to the degree… or be as open about it… as Mitch McConnell has but the simple fact is that most of you eventually come around to thinking you were elected to rule over us and not to serve us and from there it’s only a short quick step to deciding you’re worth more than we pay and going to work for those who offer more for your services than we possibly can.

And that’s when not only democracy but the entire concept of a “representative republic” dies.

 
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Posted by on April 10, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

How One Independent Sees It

For years now I’ve been making fun of the ignorance and apparently diminished intellectual curiosity of many of the folks in the rank and file at the right end of the spectrum.  I don’t feel a bit bad about it either because those are traits that are not only readily observable but easily quantifiable in the fringe zealots that make up the Tea Party which appears to dominate the GOP today.  One has only to look at the signs they carry in their rallies and spare a glance or two the misinformation they subscribe to and attempt to pass on to the world at large through the social media, no matter how much that world laughs its ass off at them.

As a recovering conservative Republican myself, discovering the depths of ignorance not only displayed by so many right wing working class people but proudly defended, worn as some kind of badge of honor was definitely an eye opening experience. for yours truly.  It took George W. Bush’s first year in office to firm up most of the doubts I had begun to entertain in regard to my choice of parties although those doubts had been wiggling and squirming at the back of my mind since the Reagan days.  I credit Bush Junior with my full awakening to the fact that the GOP was now the party of all that I had joined it to escape back in the 60s when all the racists and bigots and misogynists still trying to fight the Civil War 100 years after it supposedly ended were Democrats. 

It was after 9/11 that I decided to just back off entirely for a while and take stock of the situation regarding the Republican party which had obviously undergone some major changes during the time I had been occupied with a career and raising a family and living my little middle class life.  One of the first things that struck me was the proud ignorance referenced above. Another was the total and vehement refusal to accept any empirical data which might challenge the mindset resulting from that ignorance.

For example, I had one online discussion with a certain gentleman in Georgia back when the leading news paper in San Diego County, the Union Tribune, was reporting that one of the county’s congressmen, Randy Cunningham, had “tearfully” confessed to taking millions in graft and bribes from special interests.  The paper wasn’t accusing the congressman of being a crook, it was reporting his own CONFESSION… in his own words… to being a crook, but that made no difference to my “friend” in Georgia.  He steadfastly refused to believe the congressman was guilty until he heard it from a news source that HE trusted.  In other words, Cunningham saying “I’m guilty” wasn’t enough*. 

I have no idea what it would have taken to convince this gentleman that Mr. Cunningham had indeed committed the high crimes and misdemeanors of which he’d been accused and I’ve often suspected to this day that if he ever thinks of that particular case at all, it’s with the firm conviction that Duke… being a Republican and all… was innocent of all charges and those charges were merely an attempt by the “liberal media” to railroad him out of office.

Another example of course was the “my president, right or wrong” syndrome that afflicted the majority of the rank and file Republicans among the working class. Spurred on by various Astroturf organizations formed by Wall Street banks and corporations specifically for the purpose, “Thou shalt not criticize our president” became the GOP’s eleventh commandment. Daring to criticize or even question any actions orchestrated by Dick Cheney and acted out by our country’s first openly sock puppet president brought you instantaneous condemnation as a liberal commie pinko fag traitor who wanted our enemies… whoever the hell they were supposed to be at the time… to win… whatever the hell we had to win or lose at the time… and America to lose.  The only thing that keeps it from being laughable is the damage such attitudes wound up inflicting on the country, damage from which we are unlikely to fully recover.

But that’s the mindset you deal with when you choose to engage these people in any kind of discussion or debate.  Their minds were made up by the end of Rush Limbaugh’s radio program this morning and remain firmly closed to any and all information that might cause them to have to rethink some of their righteous opinions and convictions.

Now to paraphrase my man Arlo, in perhaps the greatest protest song ever written, I said all that so I could tell you this:  It ain’t JUST the Republicans, folks.  Many membrs of the modern Democratic party and whatever that ideology is that the so called “left” subscribes to these days is… I think they’re calling it “progressive” so as to differentiate themselves from the actual “liberals” whom they hate as much as any right winger ever did and for many of the same reasons… are just as mule headedly planted in their rigid little ideological furrows as any right winger ever was and if you think the “my way or the highway” mentality is an exclusive manifestation of Republican politispeak, you need to think some more because it simply ain’t so.

Today’s “progressive” Democrat is just as firmly locked into the patterns of groupthink and groupspeak as is any of his or her RW counterparts, perhaps even more so in many cases.  One difference (among a relative few, actually) is that they haven’t been able to translate it into a fully national phenomenon the way that the Republicans have but that’s largely because the Republicans and their corporate leash holders control all of the traditional means of disseminating information and use them solely to beat the right wing drums and keep the bubba types stirred up.

The left on the other hand has had to rely on the Internet through self created independent blogs and the building of organizations through social media networks to get their message out and no matter how successful they may have been… or think they may have been… their reach and therefore their effectiveness… has been limited compared to that of the the Wall Street parasites who have never had to actually build anything but instead have always been able to simply BUY what someone else had built.  It’s how they came to control the mainstream media and it’s how they’re slowly gaining control of the Internet, the last real avenue of free exchange of opinions and ideas, also.

And whether you want to believe it or not, that’s where people like Zach Green and his family come in.  Companies like 140Elect have no purpose in existence other than do channel the groupthink/groupspeak in the directions mandated by the highest bidder.  I’m sorry as hell if that pops any bubbles for anyone but you simply don’t charter a damned company and go into the political consulting business because you have some altruistic vision of making America a better place for children and cute little kittehs.

Sooner or later you have to realize that you don’t mean diddly squat to Adam or Zach Green except as a means to an end and that end involves putting money in their pockets.  All you have to do is see who they’ve made their fortune from over the past few years, couple it with the fact that the GOP is rapidly becoming a losing proposition as far as PR and marketing flackery are concerned and you have your answer as to why YOU are suddenly their new BFFs.  The money is no longer to be made supporting Republican losers so the big deal now is to claim to support support (and to have supported all along) Democratic winners even to the point of retroactively claiming credit for gains made by the Democrats when you were actively supporting GOP candidates.

Plenty of other people have gone into the specific means by which Mr. Green and his group of 140Whatever entities have sought to accomplish their chameleon like transition from open strategists for the bad guys to a posse of white hat heroes attempting only to route evil from the hinterlands.  I don’t need to rehash any of it because you’ve all seen it with your own eyes and based your actions on your own interpretations of it. 

Like my friend from Georgia, your mind is made up that having a #UniteBlue hashtag attached to your opinions somehow makes those opinions into something more than they were in the “old days” when you tweeted them without it (Psst! I don’t know if you’ve noticed but quite often your opinion, bolstered by the hashtag is immediately and totally canceled out by a diametrically opposed opinion also sporting the hashtag, which calls into question the advantage of even including it on your posts since you’re obviously not united at all, at least in your messaging). To summarize a few pregnant points in support of my own position(s).: 

  • You’re letting a purpose formed Astroturf Llc determine the direction in which you’re going to take the fight based on its own highest ROI… if indeed there is ever going to be a fight (So far, I haven’t seen a willingness on the part of progressives to do anything but compromise with the common enemy and spew right wing epithets at anyone actually calling for a fight).
  • Many of you have convinced yourselves that multiple retweetings of Mr. Green’s robotweets and those of the groupies he’s gathered round himself in the guise of some kind of advisory board, are somehow more powerful than simply saying what you think in your own words. 
  • You’ve committed yourselves to the defense and support of people who in no way deserve the kind of homage you’re paying them including at least one to whom you (and a few thousand others) were worth exactly $250 (21st century equivalent of 30 pieces of silver?), the betrayal of a friend and the promise of being a mover and shaker among millions of “organized” progressives once 140Elect was firmly in control. 
  • You’ve allowed defense of 140Elect to become the primary reason for #UniteBlue’s existence and I simply fail to see how that’s supposed to be helping the cause… but then maybe I just don’t understand what the “cause” is.  In doing so, you’ve turned a blind eye to the tactics certain of your members have chosen to use in defending the organization from it’s detractors even though you have loudly denounced what you considered to be the same kind of tactics when practiced by the right (#TGDN among others).
  • Last but not least, I’m finding the “MY president right or wrong” syndrome not only still alive but actually flourishing among many of you, as a large segment of progressive democrats… or “pragmatic O-bots” as they’re called by their liberal opposition… seek to stifle any attempt to question, much less criticize anything our president chooses to do or not do, no matter it’s effect on the person raising the question.

There are numerous other examples, lots of them, but the above should be enough to convey the essence of what I’m trying to say.  In doing all these things, you have in many ways become pretty much the mirror image of those you profess to be “organizing” against. 

Many of you… egged on by people with agendas that might not be positioned as “leftward” as you like to think… have joined with the right wing in pure unadulterated hatred of Liberals… ostensibly because they didn’t vote the way you demanded that they vote in 2010 and therefore you hold each one of them personally responsible for the losses suffered by YOUR party which they simply may have felt was not their own.   Whatever the case, your hatred is no more plausible than that of the right.  The fact is that if they HAD come out in 2010 and voted straight Democratic, the people fomenting the hate and discontent would simply come up with another reason to hate them because hating liberals is necessary to their own agenda. 

About that, I have this to say:  I’m not a liberal and I’ll vote in every election I’m alive to vote in and it won’t EVER be for one of today’s modern style Republicans… but I can damned well understand why some folks, feeling that no candidate supported their best interests, elected not to bother and if you ever come at me with the hate and venom you spew at them, I’ll simply tell you go off in a dark room somewhere do rude and probably physically impossible things to yourselves, which I suspect is the message the “libs” were trying to deliver no matter how much I feel they picked the wrong way to do so. 

And you can also rest assured that if a serious candidate ever arises whom I feel has my best interests at heart… no matter WHAT he/she calls him/her self… I’ll happily and without compunction break my (currently 5 year) string of voting a straight Dem ticket in every election and not even blink an eye over it. 

I’m actually beginning to think the fact that I don’t seem to fit into either “side’s” little predetermined mold a prudent position to remain in given the fact that neither side seems to give a rat’s ass about the situation I find myself in due to the machinations and “multidimensional chess games” that have replaced a simple scrutiny of each situation in the light of whether it’s right or wrong.  I still like to do that little “think for myself” thing and if that pisses anyone off, I’m OK with that.  Yup, it’s GOOD to be an independent.

 
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Posted by on April 8, 2013 in Uncategorized