Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Quote of the day? No. Better than that.

So far I'd say it's the quote of the year.  And that's after the healthcare debacle, official claims to absolute power, a nauseating midterm election, and various and sundry other atrocities and indignities.

Radley Balko:
FB friend's suggested TSA slogan:  "Exploring the vas deferens between liberty and security"

Poets walk among us.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

A reminder...

...that we should always keep our eyes on the ball.  Let's face it, it is so ridiculously easy to presume the worst of the TSA--and be amazed only that we weren't cynical enough, in the end--that a claim such as a possible exemption for orthodox Muslim women is somehow no longer quite absurd enough that it couldn't be true.

As it happens, it may not be true at all.  Via the redoubtable Wendy McElroy:
The rumor: The Department of Homeland Security may exempt Orthodox Muslim women from the sexually invasive scanners and physical exams that others must undergo as a prerequisite of air travel.


Nevertheless, in the wake of Napolitano’s unwillingness to flatly answer no, parts of the blogosphere and media have exploded with speculation and anger. (See this segment from Sean Hannity’s show on Fox News.) To support the claim that the exemption had been allowed, some websites link to this story, although it does not support the claim.


Thus, based almost entirely on an impromptu and awkward response by Napolitano, a myth has been constructed and surrounded by “evidence” that amounts to little more than speculation dressed-up with a few cherry-picked statements from Muslim organizations.

The “Muslim exemption” is a dangerous myth because it strengthens the TSA by making its critics appear to be foolish conspiracy theorists. It turns protesters against one another rather than uniting them. And, finally, it feeds a basic source of TSA’s strength: fear and resentment of Muslims.

She's right, of course. 

This is not, of course, to give TSA a pass.  That unconscionably vile mob has fully earned every nasty assumption you could make about it, even if some of them turn out to be untrue.  Consider:  McElroy's last point brings to mind a great line from Kevin Smith's delightfully amusing film Dogma:  "...and [Cardinal] Glick's the kind of asshole who would bless his own [golf] clubs for a better game."

But we should always keep our eyes on the ball, and not pursue rumor until we know it to be true.  (You know, like the old Russian joke:  at least wait for it to be officially denied in Pravda.)

Monday, November 22, 2010

Nailed it.

I think there's more than a thousand words in there.

H/T Radley Balko;  pic is (happily) attributed to David Vincent Wolf.

In Which we observe their frothing jones for a Ministry of Truth

Okay, class, what's the most important thing to take away from this news?
This is hardly a surprise but, this morning (as previously announced), the lame duck Senate Judiciary Committee unanimously voted to move forward with censoring the internet via the COICA bill -- despite a bunch of law professors explaining to them how this law is a clear violation of the First Amendment. What's really amazing is that many of the same Senators have been speaking out against internet censorship in other countries, yet they happily vote to approve it here because it's seen as a way to make many of their largest campaign contributors happy.
That's right. The committee vote was unanimous.  Roll that thought around in your mind for a while.

To paraphrase Chris Floyd:
They are not an aberration of the system. They are the system.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Useful idiocy, nicely summarized.

Very nicely done article on the modern incarnation of useful idiocy, by Giordano Bruno.

First, he nails the symptoms:
Americans are masters of avoiding responsibility for bad assumptions. I have seen middle-aged women cry, actual tears, because they have been proven incorrect on something as simple as the price of dishwashing detergent at the grocery store. I have seen full-grown men throw wild-eyed tantrums and even threaten people with death because they couldn’t handle being wrong about the correct score of a football game. I once saw a man froth at the mouth and shout vicious obscenities for 20 minutes straight because he refused to believe there where more than three ‘Jaws’ movies (I wish ‘Jaws: The Revenge’ didn’t exist either, but I’m not going to have a spasm over it). I have seen little old ladies physically attack people because they were embarrassed to be wrong, not realizing that their response was far more humiliating and self deprecating than just being “mistaken”. I have, indeed, seen the glory of overgrown babies in action.
This is similar to what I was trying to get at here, but Bruno handles it better.  And how about this simple but effective image?
Their ability to think is limited to memorization. The problem with this way of viewing the world is that it excludes critical thought, intuition, empathy, and wisdom. It traps us in a box composed of all the things we have been TAUGHT, but keeps us from the things we could discover on our own. Useful idiots are walking talking toasters; all they take is bread, and all they make is toast (and the occasional pop tart). Frankly, I’m bored with toast.
Simple image;  very powerful metaphor.  Carry it just as far as you like--it works.

Bruno later follows with an implicit description of the perfect slave system being the one in which the slaves, on their own, invent and perpetuate the justifications for their own enslavement:
The useful idiot is not just the guy chugging down GMO milk filled with udder puss, anyone can do that and not be useful. No, the useful idiot is the FDA official or the corporately paid scientist who SELLS us on the purity of the milk. He’s the local dentist who laughs at you when you question the safety of all that fluoride accumulation in your bloodstream. She’s the nurse who threatens to call CPS because you don’t want your newborn baby injected with half a dozen mercury laced vaccines two months after they exit the womb. The useful idiot is the guy who received his standardized academic neuron rinse but never learned that the first rule of academia used to be ‘question everything’.

World view is really a battle between inherent conscience, common sense, and the conditioning of our era. Even a single root misconception, like the belief in the legitimacy of the false left/right political paradigm, could easily skew the whole of a person’s vision to a sea of truths. The useful idiot is not only conditioned himself, but he also becomes an agent of that conditioning in others. When confronted with a truth outside of his established world view, he almost short circuits. He has lived most of his life with the ideas and propaganda of others slogging around in his skull. To be faced with the possibility that all of that time, energy, and devotion, was worthless, is almost too much to bear.
And finally, this passage really spoke to me personally:
Why bother trying to communicate with these dimwits at all? Are they not the very definition of a lost cause? Perhaps. I can say with a certain authority, though, that some of them can be introduced to awareness, especially since I used to be one of them...
Yeah, me too, although my origins were from the opposite end of the conventional spectrum than what Bruno describes.  (I suspect that this may be one of the reasons I have such a strong pull to try, rather than give up.  Perhaps it's like a personal penance.)  I'm pretty damn thick-headed, but the fear of self-hypocrisy is apparently even stronger.  After a lot--a lot--of purgation through shooting honest arrows at what I thought I knew, it's amazing how much things have settled down.  I still shoot the arrows--in the interest of, er, health maintenance--but they almost always just bounce off, any more.  This makes me happy.

It's a great article.  Do check it out in full.


Hat tip to one Mark Laythorpe, via Kent McManigal on Facebook.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Best election day thoughts seen so far.

Butler Shaffer, "Can Liberty be Advanced Through Violence?"
We have conditioned our minds to think of ourselves in conflict-laden ways, be they nationalistic, religious, racial, gender, or other forms of separation. Our political masters have trained us to think of one another in "we/they," "us" against "them" categories, divisions that are – like the scapegoats upon whom we play out our conflicts – changeable to suit the political needs of the moment. The fear of unseen "communists" that helped fuel the Cold War, has morphed into the concealed "terrorists," with each serving the same purpose: to expand the power and plundering of the state. Only by our individual ending of such divisive thinking and discovering the inner sense of non-contradictory wholeness that respects the inviolability of our neighbors’ lives and interests, can we become free ... We will not become free when the state goes away. Rather, the state will go away once we are free.
And, to close:
Albert Einstein got to the essence of the problem when he declared that "force always attracts men of low morality." I understand how being frustrated by others as we pursue interests we are entitled to pursue can generate intense feelings of anger. But it is not out of reactive rage or desperation that we can discover our individual freedom and the resultant liberty we can share with our neighbors. It is such divisiveness that keeps us enslaved to the state. We need to discover what we share with one another, namely, a respect for our individuality that can arise only from the integration of our rational and emotional energies into a focused intelligence. If mankind is to avoid the fate of being the first species to intentionally make itself extinct, we must transform our own minds, and abandon our ageless and contradictory efforts to force others to be free!
Until a fight comes to my door, I will engage myself in ways to avoid it. And the best idea I've yet seen in that regard is to withdraw consent, whenever and however possible.

"Hail, Ares".

It's no secret that I'm a fan of William Norman Grigg's writing, and it's no surprise that he's written yet another humdinger here, which begins with Establishment shill David Broder's recent little-bit-too-candid remarks about how the current administration could stimulate its economic mojo if it would just, you know, start another war.  You know:  if it was good enough for FDR, it's good enough for BHO...

Anyway, that's typical territory for Grigg.  What really caught my eye, specifically, was a passage at the end:
With the current depression growing deeper and nastier, the Obama administration and the banking cartel controlling it have run just about every option in the Keynesian playbook, save one: The "Hail, Ares!" play Broder suggests.
Hail Ares.  Now there's a complete image in two words.  I don't know if that was Grigg's original idea or if he heard it elsewhere, but I'm gonna remember that one.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Congratulations, America, you just elected the Establishment. Again.

You can now go back to acting surprised at how bad things have become.  How uncivil.  How warlike.  How anti-humanitarian.  "Gosh, wherever did all this ugliness come from?"  And before long you will have fresh, new cause to be shocked, shocked that the people you just put into Current Occupancy aren't really what they told you they would be after all, and you can act surprised about that too.

That's okay.  That can all be tolerated with a nudge and a wink.  What can't be tolerated is actual change, in which the rapacious advance of the Establishment against its own(ed) serfs is actually, you know, like halted, or arrested, or even mildly inconvenienced.

But fret not;  the System appears to be healthy and running fine.  With today's show of support--by prostrating yourself in supplication to ask ever so compliantly of Master to please, please reform itself using some shiny new Master-approved choices...but only insofar as might be permissible under Master-approved rules and Master-approved arbitration--you've served your purpose, legitimizing the next term by your participation.

They've got their "mandate" now.  That's all they ever really wanted.  You've done your part.

And if any of that alarms you, don't worry.  You will graciously be allowed another chance to "make your voice heard" in two more years.

Just don't go doing something crazy, like not participating.  My word, whatever would happen if the governed didn't consent?

Monday, November 1, 2010

A modern sophistry.

Seen (ad nauseam) on Facebook:
I hate taxes, but I love roads, firemen, some cops, traffic lights (but not when they're red) the Coast Guard, schools, medical help for people who can't afford it, so I pay them anyway. (borrowed from Sanity rally top 100 signs ♥ )

Really?  And here I thought people paid taxes because if they didn't, the state would hunt them down and murder them.

(Anyone who doesn't believe this is hereby invited to prove me wrong, by way of personal example.)

Taxation sure is a funny thing, isn't it?  The, uh, gentility suggested by the rally sign might suggest that most people would voluntarily enter into such an agreement, and perhaps many might, if given the choice.  But there is no choice.  Somehow, when the state gets involved, we are told the system only "works" when we force everyone to do it the same way, even those who might peaceably provide for themselves and even others.

Look:  if what we're going for here is "sanity", let's by all means start by casting aside the sophistries which try to paint the brute, naked force of mob rule as something other than what it is.