First, just for the core community here... I have a help request for some techies, having to do with things like web page design and speech-to-text. I'll elaborate down below, in comments.
Blazingly Partisan Political Gleanings
Here are a few items I had set aside. First, something that is not actually partisan. Rather, it is my Primer on Supply Side Vs Demand Side Economics. The IEET has reposted one of my popular articles showing how the Left-Right "political axis" simply does not correlate with the actual issues that we face. And that it is time to take a pragmatic, outcomes oriented appraoch, when it comes to determining whether a longstanding economic dogma should (at last) be relegated to the dustbin of history. Hey, Marxism deserved to go to the trash heap. See why the same has to be done to "supply side" voodoo.
And now the choice, unabashedly stuff, skewering the villains in "Culture War."
Anderson Cooper's must-see birther interview: CNN anchor coolly takes down Texas State Rep. who asks why we don't "know anything at all" about the president. I was pleased, till I realized Cooper was leaving out the most devastating fact that exposes “birthers” as raving loons. The fact that there were announcements of Barack Obama’s birth in the Honolulu Advertiser, way back when. You can find them in the paper’s archives, and in moldy piles in garages all over Oahu. We are dealing with Heinlein’s “Crazy Years” folks. We are dealing with bona fide, real-deal insanity.
Read this about the inevitability of Class War. Eek.
Michael Shermer lays out characteristics of a conspiracy theory:
1. Proof of the conspiracy supposedly emerges from a pattern of “connecting the dots” between events that need not be causally connected. When no evidence supports these connections except the allegation of the conspiracy or when the evidence fits equally well to other causal connections—or to randomness—the conspiracy theory is likely to be false.
2. The agents behind the pattern of the conspiracy would need nearly superhuman power to pull it off. People are usually not nearly so powerful as we think they are.
3. The conspiracy is complex, and its successful completion demands a large number of elements.
4. Similarly, the conspiracy involves large numbers of people who would all need to keep silent about their secrets. The more people involved, the less realistic it becomes.
5. The conspiracy encompasses a grand ambition for control over a nation, economy or political system. If it suggests world domination, the theory is even less likely to be true.
6. The conspiracy theory ratchets up from small events that might be true to much larger, much less probable events.
7. The conspiracy theory assigns portentous, sinister meanings to what are most likely innocuous, insignificant events.
8. The theory tends to commingle facts and speculations without distinguishing between the two and without assigning degrees of probability or of factuality.
9. The theorist is indiscriminately suspicious of all government agencies or private groups, which suggests an inability to nuance differences between true and false conspiracies.
10. The conspiracy theorist refuses to consider alternative explanations, rejecting all disconfirming evidence and blatantly seeking only confirmatory evidence to support what he or she has a priori determined to be the truth.
The key element in conspiracy theories is self-flattery... the thing Glen Beck sells above all. The notion that he and his viewers are in on the real poop, they can see what their stupid, stupid, stupid neighbors are too... well STUPID ... to see!
I call it the MENSA Effect, since I have never known a brainy under-achiever who did not cling to one form of conspiracy theory or another, from UFOs to Kennedy assassinations Spare Change to "we're living in a simulation."
(This is not to say that watchers of Fox News are MENSA-types! Far from it! They leave the thinking to Beck. But the emotional need is the same.)
BTW my favorite conspiracy passes all of Shermer's tests. It is entirely plausible that certain brilliant trillionaires who havs stated OPENLY that they wish to see a collapse of Western Civilization may have entered into alliance with another foreign billionaire who openly despises democracy, to openly fund a propaganda machine that has relentlessly and openly promoted the re-igniting of the American Civil War.
Motive, means, opportunity... and deadly effects. I do not blame the victims of the conspiracy... the consumers of Fox News... for falling for the propaganda. The people I blame are the liberals and "blue americans" for seeing this awful phenomenon, bemoaning it, but refusing to connect the dots.
In this case, the weird hypothesis... the one beggaring the imagination and beyond all plausibility ... is that there is NOT a "conspiracy" going on. And yet, I have met no one... not a single person... who is willing to even try the notion on for size. The notion that powerful men are doing exactly what they appear to be doing, pursuing goals that they have openly admitted they desire.
==and now politics==
Heck... want more? A fascinating... and not entirely unsympathetic... perspective on Glen Beck.
This November, the future House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) rode the Tea Party rhetoric to power, promising to gut “business as usual” on Capitol Hill. Touting an earmark ban and public access to bills as clear moves toward transparency, Boehner seemed demonstrably clear on another accountability issue – congressional ethics. “I think the American people expect that their members of Congress should be held to a high ethical standard,” he said in August. In spite of that expectation, Boehner is threatening to axe the Office of Congressional ethics.
Established in March of 2008 after the Jack Abramoff scandal, the Office of Congressional Ethics is responsible for “launching investigations of wrongdoings by House Members” in order to “stiffen the spine of the House ethics committee.” Operating as an inspector general of sorts, the OCE has “won praise for reviving the House’s notoriously moribund and secretive ethics process.” Despite strong conservative support for OCE, “GOP leaders are gearing up to kill the fledgling” OCE.
Okay. Reminder time. Cyclically, regularly (and always) keep checking on the Fox News Boycott. You have a right to make your purchasing judgements based on many criteria. Including a list of those who advertise with Glenn Beck.
"I hope we shall... crush in its birth the aristocracy of our moneyed corporations which dare already to challenge our government in a trial of strength, and bid defiance to the laws of our country."