fooled by propaganda

We live in two Americas.

One America, now the minority, functions in a literate world. It can cope with complexity and can separate illusion from truth. The other America, which is the majority, exists in a non-reality-based belief system. This America, dependent on skillfully manipulated images for information, has severed itself from the literate culture. It cannot differentiate between lies and truth.

Chris Hedges:

Political propaganda now masquerades as ideology. Political campaigns have become an experience. They do not require cognitive or self-critical skills. They are designed to ignite pseudo-religious feelings of euphoria, empowerment and collective salvation.

Campaigns that succeed are carefully constructed psychological instruments that manipulate fickle public moods, emotions and impulses, many of which are subliminal. They create a public ecstasy that annuls individuality and fosters a state of mindlessness.

Drew Curtis, founder of crowd aggregator Fark.com:

The ‘wisdom of the crowds’ is the most ridiculous statement I’ve heard in my life.

Crowds are dumb. It takes people to move crowds in the right direction, crowds by themselves just stand around and mutter. Only one percent of web comments have any value and the rest are ‘garbage’.

Curtis pointed to the America Speaking Out website launched by House Republicans to “allow the public to weigh in” on the issues. Curtis called the site an absolute train wreck. “It’s an absolute disaster. It’s impossible to tell who was kidding and who wasn’t.”

opening one's mouth

Ensuring there’s enough money to pay for the war will require reforming the country’s entitlement system, said House Minority Leader John Boehner, adding that the retirement age must be raised to 70.

“For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.” Ephesians 6:12

After transferring trillions of dollars of bad debt or toxic assets from the books of financial speculators to those of governments, global financial moguls, their representatives in the State apparatus and corporate media are now blaming social spending (in effect, the people) as responsible for debt and deficit!

hybrid dragon

David Dayton:

You won’t change China.

You can either learn how to work within it or constantly fight against it.  I find that it’s usually some of both.

When you make small cultural mistakes like not using the public chopsticks or bowing (Chinese don’t bow) or slapping a female co-worker on the shoulder or a million other little things you’ll be completely forgiven.  It’ll just be chalked up to “stupid foreigner.”

But when you make demands on a broken contract or hold people accountable in public for personal mistakes or force specific processes to get things done you will be punished for it.  I promise.

wealth engine

John Robb:

Current efforts to revitalize Detroit appear to be a mix of ad hoc green approaches (urban gardens, etc.) and traditional commercial development. That’s not going to turn the city’s wealth creation engine back on.

What’s needed is a rethink of how a city produces wealth and becomes economically vibrant.

A good place to start is with the urbanist Jane Jacobs. Her analysis showed that the wealth engine of a city is a bootstrap called import replacement. Essentially, a city become economically vibrant by finding ways to locally produce the things it is currently importing.

economic edge

Paul Sankey, Deutsche Bank:

“If we stopped producing gold tomorrow, we have 100 years of supply in inventory. If we stopped producing oil tomorrow, we have 55 days in inventory.” [link]

Americans buy ten thousand gallons of gasoline per second.

I suddenly wondered why we assume we can consume the Earth. Whether 55 days or 100 years, both point to finite and irreplaceable resources. We are sloppy, sloppy, sloppy. We can do much better and create a robust economy while doing so.

a glut of profits

Rob Parenteau:

And this, dear reader, brings us to the heart of the matter.

Remember the global savings glut you keep hearing about from Greenspan, Bernanke, Rajan, and other prominent neoliberals? Turns out it is a corporate savings glut.

There is a glut of profits, and these profits are not being reinvested in tangible plant and equipment. Companies, ostensibly under the guise of maximizing shareholder value, would much rather pay their inside looters in management handsome bonuses, or pay out special dividends to their shareholders, or play casino games with all sorts of financial engineering thrown into obfuscate the nature of their financial speculation, than fulfill the traditional roles of capitalist, which is to use profits as both a signal to invest in expanding the productive capital stock, as well as a source of financing the widening and upgrading of productive plant and equipment.

What we have here, in other words, is a failure of capitalists to act as capitalists.

tax-free jets

Inherited wealth and privilege are a fact of life in America as one can witness in any private jet terminal in America (there are 453 of them in Texas alone).

Jon Taplin:

So we began talking and he immediately asked me what I thought a liberal was. And I replied that liberals seek to continuously advance liberty and equality, just like John Locke suggested we should do in 1660.

Since that day the liberal constitutional world has gotten much freer and much more equal. But, despite the wishes of Karl Rove and Rush Limbaugh, the Liberal Project is not finished.

Clearly a Revolution fought on the principle that “All men are created equal” and “Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness”, advanced the cause in our country, but one might argue that since Ronald Reagan took power in 1980, the cause of equality has been in retreat.

Fewer people control more wealth and the gap in pay between the CEO and the factory line worker has widened dramatically.

We have returned to the aristocracy Jefferson warned that Hamilton was reconstructing in New York from the London model of “The City”–the financial class that pulled the strings of government. And as Alan Wolfe in his extraordinary book, The Future of Liberalism, says, “Liberty without equality would be as empty as equality without liberty would be authoritarian.”

industrial welfare

Unpublished info. released at the request of ministers of the G20:

Fossil fuel subsidies cost the global economy $557 billion in 2008.

Source: International Energy Agency, OPEC, OECD, World Bank.

Obama began to roll back U.S. subsidies for fossil fuels almost immediately after taking office.

The 2009 federal budget eliminated subsidies worth $12.7 billion during Obama’s first term and an estimated $31.5 billion over the decade. The budget implemented an excise tax that restored royalty revenues that had been omitted from off-shore drilling sites.

the ungoverned

Bruce Sterling:

[pullquote]Financiers live in small, panicky urban cloisters, severely detached from the rest of mankind. They are living today in rich-guy ghetto cults. They are truly dangerous to our well-being, and they are getting worse and more extremist, not better and more reasonable. [/pullquote]The obviously dangerous aspect of modern cities is urban organized crime, narcoterror, low-intensity warfare, war in urban terrain, favela shoot-’em-ups, whatever faddish name the trouble has this year. Baghdad, Mogadishu, Grozny.

But I’d also like to point out that large financial centers in certain cities around the planet are certainly going to kill millions of us by destroying our social safety networks in the name of their imaginary financial efficiency. You’re a thousand times more likely to die because of what some urban banker did in 2008 than from what some Afghan-based terrorist did in 2001.


overpowering reading

emily dickinson gets real

Once, when her mother was trying to make a houseguest comfortable, Dickinson couldn’t help but transform her mother’s solicitous questions into provocations: “Wouldn’t you like to have the Declaration of Independence to read? Or the Lord’s Prayer repeated?

sting of rape

30,000 barbed Anti-Rape condoms were given away free at the World Cup.

And see here. Stitched within linen and cotton, teeth in the groin is not new.

“Did you pinpoint what changed in our relationship?”