Friday, July 23, 2010

Codevilla's "Ruling Class" Really the New Scapegoat Class?

Well, the Spectator, proud purveyor of "The Largest Selection of Liberal-baiting Merchandise on the Net! (their words, not mine)" is at it again. I have to say something about this piece of schlock entitled "America's Ruling Class -- And the Perils of Revolution" by Angelo Codevilla, even if I can only eke out a half hour to do it in. It worked to call all liberals and people with some sense of history "elites", so why not move on to the next level. Next, let's say they have "Protocols" for taking over and enslaving the world. Meanwhile, pay no attention to that man behind the curtain.

Personally, I'm more concerned about the people with the money to buy and sell politicians, or just buy their own way into office, or finance Propaganda Tanks and other organizations that pick a key election, with an insufficiently obedient Republican or a Democrat on shaky ground, and determine its result. I'm concerned about the multi millionaires who welcomed George W. Bush into their ranks with do-nothing board memberships and made him a member of the "Junior Billionaire Club (price of admission, only a few million)" before he became president, and those, as we know, showering the Clinton's with money.  When power/wealth disparity reaches some level, not only is force usually not necessary, neither is "tit for tat" bribery. I'm concerned about Bernie Madoff who blew up enough of other people's money to run the Russian government for a year, and I'm worried that the "legitimate" game is not so different from his.

Sure, some of these people went to the same schools as Obama or whoever, but Codevilla is just using that to confuse matters. He really isn't focused on the galloping concentration of wealth and real power; he wants to put down the person who can say "I've worked all my life trying to understand this (aspect of history say), and I think that should count for something". Glenn Beck can tell you all about it in 10 minutes. It almost sounds like we're warming up for a Cultural Revolution, or, since we all like hyperbole these days, a genocide of the well educated, as in Cambodia.

Stop looking for scapegoats. Let's try to find the real keys to power. Most revolutions look like a few power geniuses stampeding a big chunk of the population into lynching the people who provide what stability there is, and it sometimes looks to me like the Tea Party movement could be taken in that direction.

Yes, there are "Perils of Revolution", as Mr Codevilla says, but for the 2 or 3 decades, nearly all the revolutions have been managed by Chicago School style economists who want to put unlimited power in the hands of whoever can make the most money by whatever means; who naively believe that whoever has the most money must have produced the most value. This has been going on from Chile to Argentina to Russia, and now, I'm afraid that revolutionary campaign has its hands around the throat of America.

We don't need "politics of resentment" broadcast by either the left or right. The world is what it is, and there's nobody but us to try to make it better. I like the title of a self-published book I once read "There's No Justice, Just Us".

Some thoughts on JournOlist and the teapot calling the kettle racist (and any other term of abuse t

Some thoughts I posted on, but I think they got pretty much buried in the avalanche of abuse. Quite a few ideas I've expressed before, but I can't hold a candle to some people when it comes to being repetitious.

The best argument for a closed list is what an open list discussion looks like **THIS**.
"Racist, Racist, I dare you to call me a racist you racist".
Maybe the right has closed lists. Maybe they need them less because they can outshout anybody, and never tire of saying the same things over and over again. I'm sure some groups of operatives do because they *truly* don't want people to know what they're saying. Now they're going to dare you to open your full archives, to provide 100 times as much fodder to be SHERRODed (I don't think it will catch on, but the right can talk about "Borking").

I'll wager that right wing journalists don't need anything like Journolist -- even the conspiratorial Journolist of their wild imaginations because they (right wing journalists) are an integral part of the whole right wing movement, with its conferences and other venues in which tactics for pushing this agenda or smearing this or that person are discussed openly.

I think there is a huge unexamined side of the right wing noise machine is ripe for journalistic investigation: the emails that try to look like they are from a friend of a friend.
A year ago I started getting emails my parents' friends had forwarded to them. There would be lists showing who had previously forwarded the item to the friend, and so on, but it was never clear who put it together.
My parents have always been pretty mainstream Republicans. My Mom still has some admiration for FDR and Truman, and feels Nixon got what he deserved, and they are far from ready for the revisionism that says we were "stabbed in the back" by liberals over Vietnam. She has just gotten through reading 3 Cups of Tea and loved it.
They live in a wealthy retirement community with mostly college educated people (ages generally 60-80 and up) who've run small to middle sized businesses and the like.
And they and their friends were getting, and believing in the emails with the links to YouTube videos proving Obama deliberately failed to salute the flag when generals and cabinet members around him were saluting. My mother is distressed and saying "What can you say to defend a man like that?" Actually they were saluting the president while "Hail to the Chief" was played. The email was called "The Crotch Salute" because of the awkward position of Obama's hands. Googling "crotch salute" I get 11,400 hits so it has gotten around and precious few of the hits have anyone debunking it.
They get "parables" in which Obama is portrayed as a smooth Marxist/Mafia thug. And other parables with simplistic economic implications.
They contain bits like "what if I were to tell you that Obama wants to dismantle conservative talk radio through the imposition of a new "Fairness Doctrine. that he wants to curtail the First Amendment rights of those who may disagree with his policies via internet blogs..."
Would you say, "C'mon, that will never happen in America ." (this one is a sort of 12 part call-and response thing).
They received a tirade against Obama by Gene Iacocca which was really a 3 year old anti-Bush screed with selective omissions and just one addition.
Some of them have gotten clever enough to say "Approved by Snopes" when in fact Snopes called them a fraud.
They take an essay from a right wing crazy site and call it an "article" (they never distinguish between "article" and op-ed) from the prestigious WSJ.
It seems the right wing propaganda apparat has 3 parts: (1) The Emails where everything EVERYTHING I've seen has been full of blatant lies. (2) wild bloggers who deal in stuff that has a shred of something to back it up (they can't help it if some pure and simple lies get into their comments section (
(3) Finally the stars, who avoid sue-able libel, and deal in interpretations rooted in millions of under the radar words that THEY don't have to risk saying.

Assuming I'm right about the right wing emails, etc., how can the lies and their sources be exposed?
I think first of all, people are vastly underestimating the impact. I'd propose ongoing polling. Watch them as they emerge and circulate. can help with that, and just poll 1000 (maybe less would do) people soon after something emerges to ask whether they believe whatever is being stated. No need, I think, to say anything about where they would have gotten the idea.
Another course of action without the big cost of polling is, don't let Rush and Glenn off the hook. Call and ask "What do you think of Obama's refusal to salute the flag". ( I believe their hope, and certainly what serves them best, is for these things to remain invisible to all but their partisans, and certainly not make publicity for them to get publically debunked.
If 10% of people are believing a ludicrous lie that is important news. If one can find out where the lies are coming from (there is too much similarity in style for me to believe they come from random "concerned citizens"), that is even more important news.
As for the "anything goes" blogs, I think they need to be taken seriously too. Here, unlike with the right wing emails, there is nothing secret to unmask. One way to take them seriously is to try to determine the size of their readership - some of them no doubt advertize their 'hit rates'. Also, the idea of polling applies equally well to them. And likewise putting more visible right wing (which I say because "Radical Conservative" is an oxymoron) commentators on the spot.
For an example of Rush&co studiously ignoring the "Final nail in the coffin of the global warming hoax", see

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

RE: "Mass Muslim Marriage in Gaza 450 Grooms Wed GIRLS Under Ten In Gaza"

This is a brief analysis of an email -- one of those urging that you to forward them to at least 10 other people, which claimed to describe a mass marriage of Muslim men to child brides of "under 10 year old".

LINK: Mass Muslim Marriage in Gaza 450 Grooms Wed GIRLS Under Ten In Gaza
  • Images 1-4 are supposedly of the "Child Brides". The rest though linked to this email, are unrelated -- showing some Muslim fanatics holding stupid inflamatory signs.

It is typical of many such deliberately dishonest emails, which I discuss in detail in "My Not-Really Right-Wing Mom and her Adventures in Email-Land", and in particular uses the same sort of "real picture -- made-up story" approach used in the "Obama Crotch Salute" story.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

The Mystique of Faith and the Lock-in Clause

I’m convinced that there is something in human societies, starting with the most primitive ones, that works inexorably towards a theory of everything (or at least of everything that matters), and towards the visceral rejection of competing theories of everything.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Corollary to the Big Lie Theory

Once you get a group of True Believers sufficiently attached to a set of lies about critically important issues, then any person or institution trying to report the truth becomes discredited in their eyes.  If research, educational, journalistic, governmental groups, and NGOs become alarmed and continue to repeat the "discredited" claims, their protests only reinforce the certainty of True Believers that academic researchers, educators, etc. are lying scumbags.

This, in my opinion, is the main usefulness to the right of calling Global Warming a hoax -- it becomes a constant source of ridicule, generated by people who work enthusiastically for free, of the "MSM" (or Main Stream Media), the scientific community, etc.  The more alarmed and emotional they get about it, the more they get written off as "alarmists".  The parties responsible for the original deception can stand back and watch, without expending energy, or putting their fingerprints on the stream of abuse against their rival institutions.

While big oil like Exxon-Mobile have backed off from the memeplex they helped create (excepting the Kochs), right-coalition in general has become a huge beneficiary of this stream of abuse of sources frequently allied with liberals.  Hence they would have far too much to lose if they ever gave up their attacks on anything connected with Global Warming (esp. Al Gore, whom they would have to invent if he didn't exist).  Hence support for measures to mitigate climate change have become a third rail for Republican politicians -- grounds for organizations to place a well funded opponent in their next primary, while good soldiers who toe the party line, even if they lose, will get a nice sinecure at some think tank, if they need it.

There are some exceptions among the less automatically propagandistic elements of the right, like this National Review article.

Get an email with extreme anti-Obama claims? Call up Rush or Glenn. See if they can confirm it.

I have a suggestion for the next time you receive an email forwarded by a friend, that seems to have been written by some "concerned citizen" that says the president will make $85 Million from insider trading on the BP oil spill, or that the CO2 level in the atmosphere has been essentially static for the last hundred years (which would mean the vast majority of climate scientists -- essentially a complete community of hard (not social) scientists have been living on lies).

Call up Rush Limbaugh or Glenn Beck and ask them, and don't accept a vague answer, say "Come on Rush, this is the biggest challenge to the Global Warming hoax ever. You've got to have heard of it, and what do you think. Has Wolfgang Knorr really proved the CO2 level hasn't risen in 100 years or hasn't he? Did Obama really get all his schooling in a Muslim madrassa when he lived in Indonesia or not? To the best of your knowlege of course."

The point is, there is a huge class of right wing rumor mongering that their "star" commentators know better than to go anywhere near. Let them stay under the radar so they will never be refuted in any very public way (yes, there are and and the like, but those are so much ignored by the targets of these email campaigns that they often start off with "I couldn't believe it so I checked with and it's true" even when is calling it a lie.