Wednesday, October 27, 2010

An Urban Legend Captured Aborning? Like A New Star

A report of some strange doings in France recently has been circulating on Facebook and elsewhere, I'm sure. The headline is garish: "Baby Dies As Group Jumps From Window Fleeing The Devil."
The story unfolds:

Baby Dies In Mass Jump To 'Flee From Devil'

1:43pm UK, Sunday October 24, 2010
Alex Watts, Sky News Online
A baby has died and 10 people have been injured after they jumped out of a second-floor flat window, apparently thinking they had seen the devil.

Police are investigating the incident which took place in the early hours in the small town of La Verriere, west of Paris.
(This foto appears exactly as it did, free of context, and floating in the story)
The baby was four months old and officers said many of the injured were children.
"Thirteen people were in an apartment on the second floor when, at around 3am, one of the occupants heard his child crying," said Odile Faivre, the deputy prosecutor in Versailles.

"The man in question, of African origin, who was completely naked, got up to feed his child, at which point the other occupants took him for the devil.

He was seriously wounded in the hand after being stabbed with a knife before he was thrown out of the apartment, via the door."

The 30-year-old man then tried to force his way back into the room.
"That's when the other occupants tried to escape by jumping out of the window, panicked by a fear of the devil," said Ms Faivre.

Police are questioning the naked man as well as another man who jumped from the window with a two-year-old girl in his arms.

Seven of those injured - who were African, possibly from Angola - were taken to hospital for emergency treatment.

Detectives are trying to find out if the group jumped voluntarily or were forced to jump.
My first reaction to reading this was that it had to be some kind of a send-up, a satire of some sort. The provenance of the story is Britain's Sky News, also a Murdoch property, if memory serves; sort of Faux Nuze--East. It veritably reeks of archetypal urban legend material: naked, hysterical Africans acting abysmally stupidly in some really obscure, yet plausible locale in the West, and tragedy, involving an "innocent baby" ensues. A sort of reverse Babar?

Of course it is possible that it is a true account of a real event, too. Independent verification could not be established. Google only produced references from other sites to this story.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Who DID NOT KNOW This Was Coming?

Via Crooks&Liar VideoCafe:

Woody is satisfied simply to repeat the discourse C&L employed:
Boy, this is getting ugly. Rachel Maddow talked with Eugene Robinson about the voter suppression and intimidation tactics coming from this group the King Street Patriots last night. Here's more on the latest turn of events from TPM Muckraker.Voter Registration Group Targeted By TX Tea Party Group Received Threats:
A group trying to register voters in Houston received threats and emails containing racist slurs after being targeted by a local tea party group accusing it of "voter fraud."

In emails obtained by TPM, the group Houston Votes was accused of being "a bunch of white guilt ridden assholes, NIGGERS and greasy mexican spics," "fraudulent Marxist pigs," and "American hating A-holes."

"We received a couple of threats and several harassing e-mails," Maureen Haver of Houston Voters told TPMMuckraker. "There have been several efforts, I think, just trying to race-bait and stir racial tension and part of that I think is just based on what we've received in messaging from them."

"It's really had a chilling effect on our office," said Haver, adding that one of the e-mails was reported to the FBI
You can read the emails at TPM's site. They're not safe for work.
As Digby noted:And lest we think this is just some unaffiliated cranks:

King Street Patriots leader Catherine Engelbrecht even went as far to as to accuse the group of being the headquarters of the New Black Panther Party.
The good news is that the Tea partiers don't have a racist bone in their bodies. Just ask them They'll tell you so. (It's just the "bad ones" they don't like.)

And from TPM:
True The Vote also put together a video raising the threat of voter fraud which features soaring music. "Think it can't happen in your town? Think again!" reads one message. "Our elections are being manipulated. By the RADICAL LEFT," the video says.

The video originally featured a doctored photo of an African-American voter holding a poorly photoshopped sign -- featuring Comic Sans font -- that read "I only got to vote once." That part of the video has since been edited out.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Aftershock: Robert Reich on his NEW book

Still in the pay of the Owners, Reich says "Murka" will overcome these divisions. He has to be "optimistic." It's what he gets paid for.

Me? I doubt it. Obama's election REALLY WAS a "Rubicon" of sorts. After it, White folks can see the end of their dominance looming in the distance (20-30 years until they lose the 'majority' and all that that means), and it scares the living shit out of 'em... Even the most obdurate, troglodytic of 'em has some vestigial awareness of the evils and injustices the White power structure visited upon the "others." They KNOW if they'd beenj treated the ways they treated the "others," they'd be primed for revenge once they got power. And they don't expect any different from those whm the Whites have formerly oppressed.

The Pukes are the party of White Power. Whites, finally, aren't gonna concede without a bloody fight.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Public Understanding of Wealth Disparity in the USA: Case Study in the Successful Application of Hegemonic Propaganda

I know that sounds a pretty pretentious, up there, all those tendentious words.

But I, who have had the opportunity to ask, and to analyze the answers, can attest that if you ask 100 random Murkins in the Mall if they think they are susceptible to propaganda, 90 of 'em will deny they are or would be influenced by propaganda. The graph above radically dispels that conceit.
Americans have a really distorted view of how wealth is distributed in this country.

This chart is from a paper called "Building a Better America One Wealth Quintile at a Time" by Dan Ariely and Michael I. Norton.

The top row shows the actual distribution of wealth in America. The richest 20 percent, represented by that blue line, has about 85 percent of the wealth. The next richest 20 percent, represented by that red line, has about 10 percent of the wealth. And the remaining three-fifths of America shares a tiny sliver of the country's wealth.

Below that, the "Estimated" rows show how different groups think wealth is distributed. As you can see, in people's misinformed minds things are much more equitable.

Matt Yglesias explains what's interesting here:
What’s interesting here is the extent to which the public vastly overestimates the prosperity of lower-income Americans. The public thinks the 4th quintile has more money than the median quintile actually has. And the public thinks the 5th quintile has vastly more wealth than it really has.

You can easily see how this could have a giant distorting effect on our politics. Poor Americans are simply much, much, much needier than people realize and this is naturally going to lead to an undue slighting of their interests.
Indeed. It's fine if reasonable people have different ideas about whether we should extend the Bush tax cuts for people making more than $250,000. Or think estate taxes are unfair. But when we have those debates, it's critical that everyone has a clear understanding of how things really are. We're becoming a plutocracy.
An interesting chap called the Yorkshire Ranter (DOTOF, Moonboo) registered a viable contrary opinion.

MEANWHILE...From MoJo comes this useful display:

If actual money were represented in Congress--
--this is how the House of Representatives would look, where "Big Labor's" (the rust-colored dots on the left) share is about 37%, and "Big Money" controls the rest.

Here's the summary of how many members of the House would be owned by each sector of the economy based on donations/contributions.
Sector | # of members:
Labor 159; Finance, insurance, and real estate 159; Health 26; Agribusiness 23; Lawyers and lobbyists 20; Miscellaneous business 18; Energy and natural resources 10; Defense 7; Transportation 6; Communications and electronics 4; Construction 1; Unfilled seats 2

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Message to My Congresscritter, Martin Heinrich

Breaking with usual sentiment and tradition, I tried to engage in a bit of actual communiction with my congresscritter today, to discover--to receive reassurance that--if he were one of the approximately 100 brave souls who have publically pledged to reject the recommendations of Prez. Shamwow's Catfood Commission if those include raising the retirement age, or reducing Social Security/Medicare benefits. His web-site leaves one with the impression that the LAST FUCKING THING IN THE WORLD he wants is to hear from constituents. I sent this message to his campaign office, but they ignored it. So here is, an open letter to my Congresscritter:
I am a 'senior," retired constituent who agrees with the sentiment expressed by Dean Baker in a column today. "The Social Security Pledge v. The Old Politics," in which he points out (the money quote for our purposes here):
If President Obama believed in "new politics" then he would encourage members to say where they stand on cutting Social Security benefits. Then voters would be given the opportunity to set the country's agenda, not a bunch of political hacks and Wall Street cronies who were too incompetent to see the $8 trillion housing bubble that wrecked the economy.

Of course, the public does not have to wait for President Obama to pass judgment. There is a pledge to protect Social Security that has already been endorsed by more then 100 members of Congress. The pledge is very simple. It commits members of Congress, or candidates, to oppose cutting Social Security benefits or raising the retirement age.

It doesn't get any simpler than this - even a member of Congress can understand it. The full text is available at the Campaign for America Future's web site.

Given the simplicity of this statement, it is reasonable to assume that any member of Congress or candidate who does not sign on supports cutting Social Security benefits. There really is no other plausible conclusion.
There is really no arguing with that. So it was to reassure myself that, if Mr. Heinrich has not yet signed such a pledge, it is a mere oversight which he will repair post haste now that the opportunity is presented so handily, that I take the opportunity to make this inquiry.

Please assure me that Mr. Heinrich has indeed pledged to protect the bought-and-paid-for "benefits" already won for the Nation's workers.


Sincerely, etc...

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Reverse CitUnited? Nah. Dat Boat Done Already Sailed!

Correspondent and FBriend Kevin Gosztola, who writes on OpEdNews blog, opined there today:
Too Late for Democrats or Voters to Do Anything About Corporate Money This Election Cycle

In it, he lays blame for the failure of even the miserable, petty compromise, the DISCLOSE Act, to get through the Senate this year on the Democrats. But this is only partially right.

The cause of the crisis lies, greasy and reeking, in the robed laps of the SCROTUS.

All 59 of the Dim/Ind Senators voted for cloture. Two Pukes (the Mainers?) didn't vote, and 39 Pukes voted against. I am not an apologist for the Dims or St. Barry, but this seems not to be explicitly at their feet.

However, it is also true that nobody in the Senate, Dim or GOPuke, really WANTED it to pass. But that is the consequence of the acknowledged venality and corruption of the institution as a whole, of the corpoRat colonization of the Legislature, not merely the mendacity of the (arguably weaker, inferior) "party."

And since it didn't pass this time, there's no way it will pass later when those who benefited from the deluge of unregulated funds will be loathe to strangle that goose with "unnecessary" regulation.

In any case, it's moot. It's a done deal. It's over. This is now settled law, once through one election.

The only way to reverse is if one of the Opus Deists is rendered incompetent ("dead" would work, but there are other conditions such as dementia and/or catatonia which would suffice) such that St. Barry --who I am certain will be the LAST "Democratic" president of my life-time (I'm 65)-- may nominate the replacement and break the fucktard/wackloon Opus Deist bloc's corpoRatist stranglehold... It's really the only hope we have to reverse CU; a vain hope in the extreme. We have passed the point when there was any political solution to this issue.

We passed that point on the very day the decision was issued.

The puzzling thing to me in ALL of this was the way the Obama DoJ kept the case alive, despite an Appellate decision against CU, which they COULD have let stand. St. Barry was under no legal or precedential compulsion to pursue it. The case was granted cert under the Busheviks, was argued once in March '09, and again in Sept, 09. There was ample opportunity for the Shazamers to drop the case. Elena Kagan argued the Gummint's case, iirc.

That they did NOT abandon the case when there was such opportunity to do so suggests to me that the Shamwow and the Dims saw some advantage in it for themselves.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Gummint Is Defective: It is at least potentially democratic

Corporations, on the other hand, are perfect...tyrannies: forP. yksmohC on "Antipolitics."

Since the end of the Second World War, at least, relentless corpoRat propaganda has blamed the Gummint for EVERYTHING.

Whyzatt, do ya think?

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Quantum Theory: The Simultaneity of A and Not-A

Minds "trained" to strict Aristotelian logics are often derailed by the assertion that something "material" can both be what it is and what it is not at the same time. Robert Anson Wilson offers some intriguing insights and persuasive examples (see, also, Count Alfred Korzybsky and "General Semantics"):

Sunday, October 3, 2010

RT (formerly Pravda) Investigates Endemic USer Financial Chicanery

There is no shortage of irony that dispassionate analysis of USer corruption and official incompetence in dealing with it should come most reliably from Russian and Arabic (Al Jazeera) media. (I first heard the Joe Walsh hit, "Life's Been Good..." on shortwave on Radio Moscow. True story.)

Friday, October 1, 2010

Michael Moore Joins The Symphony of the Obvious

Yes, as Moore and dozens of others quite rightly recognize, Obama & the Dims should be, in fact, pointing daily to the fact that they are STILL struggling to correct conditions left cavalierly behind by the vanquished Busheviki--who, of course, are not "departed" at all, due to Cheney's chicanery in getting a lot of political jobs reclassified as civil servants, but still retain no small amount of local autonomy within the bureaucracy.

This is wise advice. But overlooks a couple of important points. One is that, because they were (understandably, if also deplorably) unwilling to bring the Bushevik war criminals to the bar, Obama's do not have a daily public reminder of the malfeasances and high crimes of which the current conditions are the direct consequences.

Another, and to me the more salient difficulty for this analysis is the uncomfortable fact that the real reason Obama's even IN office at all is to make the people FORGET the decades of clusterfux promulgated by the WHITE oligarchy. He's quite simply a (willing?--Is the Nobel Peace Prize his reward?) scapegoat.

If he were to make the "Bush (Clinton/Bush/Reagan) Did It" complaint stick, as he would have to do to retain his cred with his base, he'd be defeating the very reason for his presidency, which is to allow himself to be MADE the author and responsibility for the failures.

So that's his dilemma (tri-lemma?: He & the Dims have to (rightly) insist that they were left a mess, and the Pukes have obstructed every effort to clean it up, but he can't without 1) a constant provocative reminder such as a trial, which he won't pursue for understandable but cowardly reasons. Besides if he did, he'd be essentially undoing the very work he was put in place to effect.

Yeah, it's complicated