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      The calls are coming in. Assuming they are correct, I think this vote is a mistake, and I note that having been given a clean vote to leave and a chance to live their own values, but having given in to fear; for me, at least, Scottish complaints about privatization of the NHS and other [...]
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Personal Power Dynamics- a Refresher

The squeeze is here.  The outgoing hardasses among our elected officials have a limited time only to solidify the 1%’s stranglehold on the money stream.  They’ve been busy the last couple of years on the cocktail weenie circuit.  Witness this exchange between Gwen Ifil and Paul Krugman from last week’s Noose Hour:

THAT, ladies and gentleman, is what happens to a journalist when all they ever hear is people all around them telling them that cutting “entitlements” is unavoidable.

Every time I see crap like this, I shake my head.  To me, it looks like Ifil is very sincere.  She truly believes that people who do not have wealth *must* give up some little piece of whatever they have.  She doesn’t question why or whether this is the best solution or what will happen down the road.  She has “thought stoppers” carefully positioned in her mind by the people who she hangs out with.  Her attitude is religious, not rational.

I’ll give her a hint as to why we shouldn’t go down this path.  Back in the mid 2000’s, the pharma industry was full of Gwen Ifils.  Those over educated, technically proficient college graduates were doing Ok.  No one was getting rich but we weren’t living in public housing.  And many of my friends didn’t think they would need social security or medicare when they retired.  Those days are gone.  We are now the new precariats.

But I digress.

Gwen Ifil is not the worst of the bad actors on news hour programs.  She seems to be more earnest than some of her counterparts on shows like This Week with George Stephanopolous.  Yesterday, George Will got his bow tie in a twist and did his best “I shall not be mocked, sir!” at Krugman, while his syrupy, cynical side kick Mary Matalin opportunistically joined in. (What was it, Carville?  Was the sex *that* good??) It is impolite to point out that people who insist that the working and middle class eat their poison mushrooms are not being honest or mathematically correct on cost savings.

Ahhh, the old “civility defense”.  Let’s call this what it is, shall we?  It’s the best bullying tactic on TV.  Call your opponent impolite and have your gang join in.  We have seen how this works in religion as well.  NO ONE is allowed to question a religious person’s beliefs.  It’s impolite.  That’s why we have faith based initiatives, red beanie dudes monitoring women’s fallopian tubes and pious and extremely tedious church ladies who know much more about gay sex than we do tut-tutting over the “homosexual agenda”.  The minute you tell them you don’t believe their shtick because it’s irrational and cruel, they get all up in your grill about how rude you are to them and how polite society does not question others’ belief systems.

In personal power dynamics, one of those 3 day courses that are given to corporate management and salesmen and which the scientists were encouraged to try out on their colleagues, we learned about the passive-aggressive scale.  This scale goes from 1 to 10 with the lower end representing passive communication and pressure while the upper end represented aggressive communication and pressure.  The optimal sweet spot for communication and negotiation is between 5-7.  That represents assertiveness without aggression.  People who communicate in a passive style, that is 1-4, are at a distinct disadvantage in getting what they want.  In order to be more productive, they need to step it up into the 5-7 zone.  Conversely, if you are a fucking abrasive asshole, you need to tone it down or you will jeopardize your ability to get things done in the future.

HOWEVER, if you’re in the sweet spot and your opponent starts ratcheting up the scale, getting more aggressive, YOU need to get more aggressive in order to hold your ground.  If you’re at 5 and he goes to 7, you need to go to 7.  If he goes to 8, you need to go to 8.  He needs to see that you are not going to back down and that your committment is as strong as theirs.  This will force him to come down or disengage.

The call for civility and the “no-mockery” zone thing is a pre-emptive strike that is intended to keep the true aggressor from looking truly aggressive.  George Will with his stupid bow tie and nerdly glasses looks all refined and low key but he’s been very successful at bludgeoning his opponents.  Paul Krugman has just enough Princeton ego and mocking amusement to push Will and force him to invoke his civility strategy.  The civility strategy is deployed to prevent people like Krugman from getting too assertive and meeting aggression with aggression.

It’s almost impossible for one guy like Krugman to do battle against this almost impenetrable wall of irrational belief.  Oh sure, Will and his gang know that what they’re saying isn’t true and that they’re working for the bad guys. But I think we give the Gwen Ifils and David Gregory types more credit for their intellects than they deserve.  You can bet that they got to their present positions by being bright politicians, not by sticking to the facts and reasoning things through.  They are experts at navigating the rungs of media power.  They aren’t economists and they don’t have to actually experience the real world the way the ex-pharma worker does- well, not yet anyway.

But they *have* been somewhat protected from the effects of their belief system on their wider audience.  We send a lot of emails to our congressmen.  But do Ifil and Gregory have any idea how their brainless acquiescence to the dominant dogma is received by the average American?  Maybe it’s time they found out just how unpopular it is to the 300 million of us who don’t live inside the beltway.

When was the last time you contacted the News Hour?  When was the last time that any media personality heard from someone other than their own little circle?  When was the last time that Gwen Ifil felt uncomfortable?  When was the last time that George Will or Mary Matalin was called mendacious?

It’s time we stepped it up to at least an 8.  Paul Krugman needs some help.

The Verdict: Biden won the debate and soundly beat Ryan

I am told that the mainstream media is trying to spin it hard in Ryan’s favor.  Lucky for me, I cut the cord last year so I don’t have to put up with the frantic spinning and pundits telling me what I should or shouldn’t be offended by.

Biden won.  Yeah, he smiled mockingly at Ryan.  Yeah, he laughed and interrupted.  So what?  Did that make what came out of Ryan’s mouth more agreeable?  More worthy of respect and consideration?  Hell no.  Ryan is a Ayn Rand conservative who wants to slash the budget so severely that we’ll become a nation of favelas and gated communities with the not-quite-seniors and poor carrying the burden of decades of tax cuts for the rich.  That’s what he is all about.  All you had to do was listen to the words that came out of his mouth.  Biden simply countered him very effectively.

I did have issues with what Biden was defending at times.  He wasn’t straightforward about Social Security and didn’t take retirement age changes off the table.  That infuriated me and probably all of the other people my age and a bit younger who have been pre-paying our benefits for decades.

But on the other stuff?  He trounced Ryan who came off as even less capable of taking over the office of president than Sarah Palin did four years ago.  Don’t take that as support of Palin or her conservative views. My protest vote in 2008 wasn’t about liking Republicans.  It was a protest.

Please don’t waste your time telling me how “rude” Biden was to Ryan.  That’s the operatives speaking through the media pundits, trying to get the public to condemn Biden by using the appeal to civility and politeness.  It’s the standard way to get effective people to shut up and sidelined.  The media likes Ryan and his budget plan, probably because none of them will be affected by it.

But that doesn’t change the fact that Biden won.

It also doesn’t change the fact that although Biden has demonstrated effectively how to defend his party and command the debate, I’m still voting third party this year.  It’s Obama and Geithner and his Wall Street handlers that I have a problem with and voting for Joe is not going to change that.  Joe is still only the vice president, as much as he seems to be wasted in that position.  Just like Hillary is a great SOS but could have been so much more.  Joe is an enigma to me.  He’s like a bright guy who got stuck in the sales department.  But in general, it just looks to me like the Democrats benched their best players in order to bet everything on Obama.  The whole party structure and function seems out of whack with the most effective parts of it on mute and this weird toxic strain of operatives in charge. Am I just imagining it?

But anyway, Biden- 1, Ryan-0.  That’s how I’m calling it.

Common Sense and the sensus communis: anatomy of an American pressure cooker

romesenate1

Gay-Lussac

The pressure of a fixed mass and fixed volume of a gas is directly proportional to the gas’s temperature.

This relationship is known as the Gay-Lussac’s Law and a pressure cooker is an example of the law in practice. Cooking under pressure creates the possibility of cooking with high temperature liquids because the boiling point of a liquid increases as its pressure increases. High pressure and high heat can result in delectable dishes.

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Cooking under pressure can be also dangerous because as liquids change phase into gases their volume expands greatly. For example, at atmospheric pressure the volume of steam is about 1700 times greater than the volume of water. To prevent pressure cookers from becoming bombs, relief devices (pop safety valves) are employed that are capable of relieving all of the steam the vessel is capable of producing.

America the Beautiful Pressure Cooker

The political pressure cooker is beginning to heat up. The power brokers and institutions that drive the nation have arrived unannounced on the doorsteps of America like a gaggle of unwanted, high maintenance relatives that demand hospitality for an unforeseeable time and that won’t take no for answer. Furthermore, they’ve announced that more relatives are on the way. Whatever plans America’s householders had, they’ve just gone out the window, with their household budgie and the relatives’ cat in hot pursuit.

People are justifiably angry with this incursion. Their budgie might not have been much, but it was “their budgie”, nurtured from birth into what it had become. Justifiably angry householders are trying to work out why the relatives arrived on their doorsteps and why they brought their fucking cat. Continue reading

Kanye West may Save Obama’s Presidency

(With apologies to Taylor Swift)

Kanye West may save Obama’s presidency. When President Obama said “He’s a jackass.”, the President confirmed a simple truth about civic virtue that transcended most political boundaries.

Importantly, he did so authentically. His statement was not the product of intense focus group distillation.

The comment leaked (hmm) and it met with significant approval. Unsurprisingly, given President Obama’s historic fall from favorability grace, the video was “released” by CNN.

In the video, the President is charming just being himself. His charm is but a bonus, however, because the People’s approval was based on his bare words.

Mr. West’s act could save Obama’s presidency, if “President Obama” recognizes the simple truth of why his comment worked. The people who voted for him did so because he promised to speak the truth and he promised to act on the truth. His statement both spoke and performatively acted on the truth of Mr. West’s behavior.  The People approved.

It’s remarkable that Obama has not realized the power of being honest, given that the promise of honesty carried him to power. Heck, he even disarmed the faux race angle of the incident, which delivers on the post-racial promise (that others made for him).

So, if President Obama realizes that being honest and keeping his promises (general as they were) will give him the best chance of having a second term, then perhaps he’ll adopt doing so as an election strategy. If he does, then his presidency will be historically important because he will be an example of how people benefit by doing the right thing.

UPDATE: Many of you think my modest proposal is not too swift. That is not a bad outcome.

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Timmy’s Tantrum vs. the Mosuo Matriarchy

0,1020,1534447,00mWhile reading Dakinikat’s post on Geithner’s profanity-laced rant against Sheila Bair and Mary Shapiro I could not help but wonder how the dynamic would have been changed had either Bair or Shapiro been in Geithner‘s position and vice versa. This lead me to wonder if their gender might have influenced his performance tactic or if his control issues manifested themselves in a gender-neutral fashion. Then, having recently read a piece in Der Speigel on the Mosuo matriarchy, I wondered how differently the whole episode would be playing out, if the Mosuo matriarchy’s institutional structure was guiding their behavior.

At the outset, it is worth noting that the Mosuo matriarchy is only one of potentially myriad forms of matriarchy. This brief mainstream media-derived post should not be seen as claiming that all matriarchies would carry similar features based upon a specific essentialized version of human femaleness in its socially-dominant context.

SPIEGEL ONLINE: Is Mosuo society a paradise for feminists?

Coler: I had expected to find an inverse patriarchy. But the life of the Mosuo has absolutely nothing to do with that. Women have a different way of dominating. When women rule, it’s part of their work. They like it when everything functions and the family is doing well. Amassing wealth or earning lots of money doesn’t cross their minds. Capital accumulation seems to be a male thing. It’s not for nothing that popular wisdom says that the difference between a man and a boy is the price of his toys.

Hmm. I think it fair to suggest the Mosuo’s take on the role of the Federal Reserve Bank, and Wall Street in general, would proceed along a vastly different tack then it did in the aforementioned meeting. Given the downplay of capital accumulation, how does this cash out in terms of social organization?

SPIEGEL ONLINE: What is life like for a man in a matriarchy?

Coler: Men live better where women are in charge: you are responsible for almost nothing, you work much less and you spend the whole day with your friends. You’re with a different woman every night. And on top of that, you can always live at your mother’s house. The woman serves the man and it happens in a society where she leads the way and has control of the money. In a patriarchy, we men work more — and every now and then we do the dishes. In the Mosuo’s pure form of matriarchy, you aren’t allowed to do that. Where a woman’s dominant position is secure, those kinds of archaic gender roles don’t have any meaning.

Continue reading

You Don’t Have to be Stupid to be Ignorant, II

3rdMay1808It’s been said that the left hold their firing squads in an inward facing circle. If we allow the qualification that the shooters tend to be ideologues, then Plukasiak’s responses to dakinikat’s post on the Honduran situation suggest that he would be in the front row, if he wasn’t already the Generalisimo that ordered the execution.

Plukasiak comments on this post demonstrate weak reasoning skills and a lack of civility. Anecdotal experience suggests that non-elite ideologues tend to function thusly. Plukasiak’s approach has a whiff of the jackboot about it, so, given the dangers ideologues pose to civil society, especially when said societies face challenging circumstances, I think it is useful to treat his responses as a case study of ideologic pathology, as a means of identifying the symptoms so that we can better avoid its outcomes.

Methodologically-speaking, it is optimal to let Plukasiak’s own testimony serve as the rope that makes the case. I will juxtapose dakinikat’s commentary, with Plukasiak’s interpretation of her commentary, to demonstrate how his ideological bent distorts her intent. This type of distortion of reality, in conjunction with it’s claim to be true, is the basis for the creation of organically-created schizophrenia, which is why I label his act as a sociopathology.

The exchanges continue to roil and this treatment will not be exhaustive. Treatments rarely are in the blogosphere. Please note, some of my points in the analysis at the end will arise without foremention. I assume readers will travel these paths on their own, if they find the exercise of this post worthwhile.

Dakinikat begins her post by noting that US News coverage of the Honduran coup was lacking amidst the focus on Michael Jackson’s death. She says in her post that she finds this lack strange, given US involvement in Honduras. She says her search for news lead her to the Wall Street Journal, hardly a strange place for a doctoral student in Finance to tread, and she notes:

While #Michael Jackson and #IraqElection are on trending topics, Honduras appears to be the overlooked coup.

She then quotes the WSJ op-ed piece on the apparent “overlooked” coup that offers an alternate opinion. From here, she states:

I’ve noticed among some of the more leftist progressives in the United States that it’s really cool to think the Hugo Chavez is a man of the people and that life in South America will improve under his guidance. It’s also equally hep among the most right wing of the conservative movement to write off every Latin American leader who hasn’t dollarized their economy and opened their people to “jobs” provided by U.S. based corporations as communists in the Castro model. Ah, to be an ideologue clinging to the object of their desires! Life would be so simple then! As usual, the devil is in the details and the greater ethos of reality lies somewhere in the mundane but dangerous middle.

; and;

So, what we need to do now is keep reading to find the devil in the details or perhaps Mr. Chavez’ nose will find the smell of sulpher once again. But then, we’re at the mercy of Corporate press, whose bottom line has denied funding to elsewhere news desks and, after all, Billy Mays just died unexpectedly.

She also notes:

We know have an interesting little development in our own backyard which appears to be making bedfellows of SOS Hillary Clinton, Daniel Ortego, Fidel Castro, and Venezuelan macho, macho man Chavez. Some how, I think we’re on the wrong side. Secretary Clinton, what the hell is going on?

Continue reading

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