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    • The Wages Of Embarassing Elites Are Death
      Everyone remember the Panama papers? A leak of bank records showing that the ultra-rich are hiding massive wealth, tax-free and often breaking the law to do so? A rather weak set of laws designed to allow tax avoidance by rich people, at that. Found out the other day that the reporter who broke the Panama Papers story was killed by a car bomb. Coincidence, n […]
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“Travel Ban” is the new Republican “Cut and Run”

Remember the Cut and Run vote?  I do.  If I recall correctly, some Congress people nearly came to blows over it.

But just because Republicans keep saying “Travel Ban” doesn’t mean it makes any damn sense.

So, let me try to explain why the travel ban is counterproductive:

As Friedan and Fauci tried to explain, the West African countries affected have very porous borders.  People can get out of them and into them without much trouble.  If you impose a travel ban, you restrict direct flights to the US.  But the routes out of other African countries are not affected.  Heck, you can cross over into Europe or the Middle East pretty easily from Africa.  So, imposing a travel ban does not restrict people in the hot zone from coming here.  What it does is prevent those who would otherwise take the quickest and most direct route from being monitored.

Therefore, a travel ban could actually backfire and allow the entry of unmonitored hot zone travelers.  That is not to say that quarantine is out of the question.  It’s perfectly reasonable.  But try to explain all of that to someone scared senseless by E-B-O-L-A!!!

But the biggest problem with the travel ban argument is that it is so successful at portraying Democrats as being lax, unconcerned and callous.  Congratulations, Republicans.  You have once again pummeled an unarmed opponent silly because, to this date, I have yet to see Democrats come up with two or three word phrases that cut to the amygdala as effectively as the Republicans do.

I can repeat over and over that friends don’t let friends vote Republican but I am having a hard time endorsing the student body presidents on the other side.  They are becoming more and more feckless and can barely defend themselves.

{{exasperated sigh}}

Phobias

A followup to yesterday’s post on Love Bombing: On our side of the aisle, one of the sites using cult indoctrination and thought reform techniques most effectively has to be DailyKos.  Of course they will tell you I am saying this because I am a disgruntled former Kossack.  That’s to be expected.  They have to say that.  They’ll also tell you that I was a racist when I was writing on that site.  That is *also* predictable since they needed to associate negative personality traits to me because I wouldn’t go along with the program.  Nevertheless, it’s about as close to a cult as you’re likely to find on the left.  Yep.  Noooo doubt about it.  Read my comment here to find out how it works.

On to phobias.

Did you ever wonder why Mormon missionaries and Jehovah’s Witnesses emphasize living forever when they come to your door?  It just hit me that the reason they do it is because their potential hits have some things in common that distinguish them from the general population.  They are vulnerable in some way.  They may have undergone some recent trauma and sometimes that involves a death in the family.  Or it could be that they just have an irrational fear of death.

Most people go through a stage in their adolescence when they come to understand their own mortality.  And it’s extremely frightening.  But at some point soon after this realization, you come to understand that if you don’t take that thought and push it to the back of your mind where it can lurk with all of the other childhood boogiemen, you will be constantly paralyzed with fear and will always be looking for someone to alleviate that fear.  What amazes me about the rapture addicts is they swear they are Christians that believe in resurrection but they refuse to take the prerequisite step.

And cults like the JWs and other fundamentalist religious groups know that thing is lurking and play upon it.  They nourish that phobia by recognizing it, promising to alleviate it and then, threatening you with it if you step out of line.   You will get everlasting life if you do everything they expect of you.  If you don’t, the everlasting life will be withheld from you.  For a person who is scared to death of death, it’s a fantastic way of getting compliance.  In retrospect, it would have been so much easier on everyone if the person affected had just learned to master their fear and tucked it away into the back of the mind where it belongs. You can’t do a damn thing about dying, it happens to everyone.  Why worry about it? Failure to master it has broken up families and subjected the person to a lifelong pursuit of unattainable perfection and personal sacrifices.  It also enriches the people who run the cults and the fundamentalist organizations that promote this crap while depriving the person of a full, rich life.

Here are a couple of videos from CSTheApostate about how JWs use phobias.  And yes, they really do this.  Let’s just say that I grew up with imaginary demons {{eyes rolling}}:

and

You’ll notice that CSTheApostate also mentions an apostate phobia. You do not want to have dissenters hanging around harshing your mellow so it’s to the benefit of the high control group to make being an apostate as unpleasant an experience as possible.  Your reputation is ruined, you are permanently ostracized and you are made a shining example of what will happen if you buck the system.  Note that this keeps apostates from seeking each other out.  In the eyes of an apostate, other apostates are bad people. See my remarks above about DailyKos to see how this works.  One of the reasons why the left is having such a problem getting the band back together is because it purged all of the apostates in 2008.  The ones who want to move forward don’t trust the apostates. (Kudos to people like Lambert at Correntewire who seems to have conquered this fear) I’m happy to be an apostate former Democrat because the party went seriously off the rails in 2008 and is now in the grip of unscrupulous people who will continue to use thought reform techniques to control the party.  Yes, the other party does it too but that didn’t make it right.

It’s not the only phobia high control groups play on.  Withdrawal of love and affection and disassociation from your family is also a powerful one.  Also, playing on the supernatural to alienate you from the world is sometimes used.  If the world outside the group is in the grip of Satan, why would you ever want to stray?  It’s both funny and admirable that CS went so far as to try to conjure up a demon so he could face his fear of demons.  JWs are scared silly of demons and truly believe they are real spirit creatures, so doing this is about as brave a move as he could make.  (I’m betting alcohol was involved) Of course, there are no demons and once he’d proven it to himself, he could cross that phobia off his list and resume his growth towards maturity.

Political groups also use phobias.  Democrats are particularly good at dangling Roe v Wade at young women. If you don’t vote D, poof!  There goes your bodily autonomy.  They don’t actually have to protect anything because they know that Republicans will never get rid of Roe.  It’s the one tried and true motivation to go to the polls for their voters.  In the last couple of years, Democrats have introduced a new phobia.  *They’re* the only ones that stand between your social security benefits and the Republicans who want to destroy social security.  Back in 2000, I would have believed this.  I think Al Gore was genuinely concerned about keeping those benefits safe in a “lock box”.  But now, the Democrats have got the hang of manipulating their base, having done such a masterful job in 2008, that they have no qualms about dangling social security in front of the snapping Republican alligator to get its base to comply.  Social Security will be allowed to be eroded bit by bit by the Democrats.  It will be under constant threat and we’ll all be scared to death that there won’t be anything left for us to retire on unless we vote for the only party that will prevent the elimination of Social Security.  Someday, it will become as meaningless as Roe but the Democratic party will have been rewarded, over and over again, for keeping it around even if few people can benefit from it.  This is how it works.

On the Republican side of the aisle, the phobia is about chaos, terrorism, violence and theft.  Lots of elderly widows who missed out on the feminist era depended on their missing spouses to take care of them.  Now that they’re on their own, they may feel vulnerable.  Fox News ups the ante with stories about abductions, pedophiles, random acts of cruelty and murder.  The world looks like it’s disintegrating. And since the right wing has the bigger megaphone these days, these phobias are fanned constantly.  If you ever wonder why the Republican base acts as crazy as it does, it’s because the phobias are hyped every single day.  Adherence to fundamentalist principles, authority, obedience and purity is touted as the remedy to keeping the bad stuff at bay.  Consequently, if you’re experiencing a rough patch of unemployment, foreclosure, sickness and poverty, it’s YOUR fault for not following the rules.  People are supposed to feel guilt and shame.  That makes the lucky feel like luck had nothing to do with it.  It’s personal virtue so they don’t need to do anything for the suffering of others.  They brought their own misfortune upon themselves.  It’s not the Republican voter’s responsibility to rescue you.

David Brooks is the country club version of the phobia promoter.  Here’s an example of the way he caters to the phobia crowd.  This is from one of his recent columns, Midlife Crisis Economics:

In the progressive era, there was an understanding that men who impregnated women should marry them. It didn’t always work in practice, but that was the strong social norm. Today, that norm has dissolved. Forty percent of American children are born out of wedlock. This sentences the U.S. to another generation of widening inequality and slower human capital development.

One hundred years ago, we had libertarian economics but conservative values. Today we have oligarchic economics and libertarian moral values — a bad combination.

In sum, in the progressive era, the country was young and vibrant. The job was to impose economic order. Today, the country is middle-aged but self-indulgent. Bad habits have accumulated. Interest groups have emerged to protect the status quo. The job is to restore old disciplines, strip away decaying structures and reform the welfare state. The country needs a productive midlife crisis.

There’s bad stuff out there.  Follow the rules, obey your masters and no one gets hurt.  If you are hurt, it’s because you’re immoral, depraved, derelict and irresponsible.  It couldn’t possibly be the case that you are one of millions of people whose careers and lives were derailed by some really depraved and irresponsible people on Wall Street.  I don’t know if Brooks really believes this crap or just gets paid to spout it.  If we assume that only fairly intelligent people either merit or finagle their way onto the pages of their New York Times, we might also reasonably assume that Brooks knows that what he writes isn’t true but he does it because there is an audience out there that revels in denigrating people in the classes beneath them and inculcating a sense of learned helplessness.  Yep, I loathe David Brooks.

Neat, huh?

The Pharisee and the Publican

Here’s Newt Gingrich telling us unemployed (who paid more in taxes *this* year from my severance than some Georgians will make in salary) to take a shower and get a job (at vastly reduced salaries and no benefits if we can even find one):

By the way, Calista, did you disinfect that thing first?  Just curious.

Frankly, I am not surprised that Newt Gingrich is on top of the polls in the Republican presidential primary race.  My mom once told me that people forget indiscretions.  (Except when they mess with the electoral process.  THAT tends to be unforgivable).  Here’s what I wrote about Newtie last May:

1.)First up, Newt Gingrich is running for president?  Hokay.  The former speaker is a history buff Republican with a petulant streak.  He’s also a movement conservative jerk who pursued Bill Clinton with a vengeance and succeeded in shutting down government, leaving government workers without a paycheck for several weeks.  He’s also one of those authoritarians that Bob Altemeyer and John Dean wrote about.   You know, Conservatives without Conscience? That right should be enough to disqualify him.  He’s an enemy to working familes.

But no matter.  What brilliant winning message will the Democrats and access bloggers respond with?  His fibs about his military experience and his extramarital affairs!  Yes, we have learned NOTHING from the left’s relentless mocking of Sarah Palin’s brain cells.  It wasn’t her lack of intelligence that knocked her back.  It was her careless depiction on her webpage of Democratic Congresspersons’ districts as targets.  It didn’t matter that she had nothing to do with the shooting of Gabrielle Giffords.  It’s just an untimely convergence of events that shined a spotlight on the right’s inflammatory rhetoric.

Listen up, access bloggers: you are NEVER going to bring Newtie down by harping on what a sleazy, hypocritical asshole he is.  As a Democrat, you don’t have the moral authority to challenge a Republican, you godless secular humanist.  Remember David Vitter’s romps with prostitutes in his Pampers?  How about Larry Craig’s bathroom tap dancing routine?  Nobody forced them out of office over their indiscretions.  And just because Newt resigned doesn’t mean that he can’t be rehabilitated by the right.  He’s a Catholic now and he’s been married to his current wife for 11 years.  He’s practically born again.  Look at Glenn Beck or Bill O’Reilly.  O’Reilly had to pay off one of his staffers because she’d caught him on tape making graphic, sexually harrassing phone calls to her. You’d be amazed at what the Fox News viewer is willing to overlook.

If I were you guys, I’d let the personal stuff go (well, except for the one where he asked his first wife for a divorce when she was in the hospital after cancer surgery.  I’m guessing that senior women who were dependent on their husbands for their livelihood won’t like that very much).  Instead, I’d bring up the sanctions he earned when he failed to report the money he made on the courses he sold.  Hey, if Charlie Rangel could get sidelined and disgraced over bad recordkeeping, isn’t it just as bad, or worse, for the speaker of the house?  Or how about the GOPAC document outlining how to manipulate public opinion by subtlely changing your language?  Yeah, Newtie is responsible for the crap we’ve been putting up with since 1990.  Nice guy.  And he hasn’t wasted a minute going back to his old language habits.  Go look at his presidential bid announcement.  Or why not interview some of the hardworking and retired Americans who waited out Gingrich’s temper tantrum in 1996?  You know, mortgage’s due, heating bills to pay, food to buy for your kids, Newt didn’t give a $#*! about anyone who had to wait for their checks.  Not one little bit.  Is that who we want as our next president?

If you want to take Newtie down, you’ve got to show the Fox News viewer how he’s betrayed *them*, not his wives.

What Republican voters are responding to with Newt is his forceful defense of their values, as wanting, narrow and uncharitable as those “value” may be.  They are protecting their own money and are fearful for their safety.  They don’t like chaos or uncertainty.  Gingrich has made a study of words and is brilliant at manipulating the public through the use of them.  You might say he wrote the book on the subject, because, er, he did.  Newt knows that when his target audience is anxious and afraid of the local occupier camping at the park, it will turn to the man who is speaking the language of order.  Newt doesn’t really have to be talking about reality.  His audience is probably not in touch with reality the way the rest of the younger working public is.  They’re frightened of an Arab spring complete with smashed windows and fires and smelly, poor people who might steal something.

Newt is a proud man.  He’s a rich man.  He is a successful man, or what Republicans define as success.  He is not a humble man.

If I were him, I’d be sure that Michelle serves and tastes the food first from now on.  You never know what the kitchen staff are thinking these days.

Friday: Be very afraid?

Last night on Conflucians Say, we discussed anger and why it’s sometimes a very useful emotion.  You have a right to be angry if someone has abused you or has done something untrustworthy.  Keeping anger inside or giving in to pressure that says you shouldn’t get angry because it isn’t polite can lead to frustration, depression, health problems and passivity.  Healthy organisms with good survival instincts get angry and do something about it when they are treated badly.

So, why didn’t we get really angry after 9/11?

Because if there was ever a time to get really overwrought, sharpen those pitchforks and march to DC to demand answers and George W. Bush’s criminal ass out of the WH, it was immediately after 9/11.  Terrorism might not be entirely preventable and let’s face it, the US was past due for someone to strike us over something, but there was plenty of evidence that the people in charge *knew* 9/11 was coming and they did nothing to stop it.  Not only that but some of us believe they let it happen on purpose to usher in their brave new world of unfettered capitalism shock and awe.  Maybe they didn’t think it would be so spectacular but the odd passivity of the administration coupled with weird coincidences (military jets on exercise that day?  Really?), can make even perfectly sane people reach for the Reynold’s Wrap.

So, why didn’t we storm the castle and toss the inhabitants into the moat?  I think it was because of fear.  Many of us were scared out of our wits, a situation that was exaccerbated by the introduction of the terrorism alert system.  We lived in a state of code red for years.  And every time the fear level subsided a little and voters started to ask questions, the director of Homeland Security would up the red end of the spectrum.  A little jolt of fear does wonders for keeping the populace in line.

I’m bringing this up because the news about the economy is grim.  It’s very serious.  We didn’t live through the Great Depression but we can read all about it and consult our grandparents, if they’re still around.  Our 401Ks are depleted, our jobs are disappearing, our way of life is going the way of the dinosaur, or so it seems.  It’s very frightening.  And now there are people at various websites scaring the pants off of us with even more dire scenarios.  Ian Bremer of the Eurasia Group gave an apolcalyptic scenario on Planet Money on Wednesday where he basically said that the little people, and by this Oh Best Beloved, he meant *us*, do not have the luxury of being angry about the bonuses.  We should be worried about our own subsistence and meeting the basic needs of food and shelter.

Oh, really?

Fear is also a useful emotion.  If can provoke the fight or flight mechanism.  But it can also short circuit the ability to reason.  It makes us vulnerable to emotional manipulation.  It can make even normally sane people do crazy things, like re-electing the bastard that got us into the mess in the first place.  So, let’s assume that the people who are suddenly worried about economic Armageddon are being honest.  What is the logical thing to do?  Preparation is everything.  Don’t take on new debt right now.  Liquidate some assets so you have a cushion in case you get laid off.  Start making a plan B in case the worst happens.  Start a vegetable garden.  Run for public office.  Contact your congress critter and let them know you’re how you feel.  Turn off the cable news idiots. Pay attention to signs in your environment as to how the wind is blowing.

But for gawd’s sakes, don’t let anyone tell you that you haven’t got the luxury to be angry.  Feel the rage over what the laissez faire capitalists have done.  Be frothing mad over the way that the last administration and the current one have allowed the greedy bastards to do whatever they want without any kind of regulation.  Now that we know what they are up to, what is keeping the Obama administration from reining them in?  Even now, AIG is funneling, tunneling, billions of dollars to Goldman Sachs and nothing is being done about it.  The bankers get away with murder and are never forced to take a haircut while union workers in Detroit have to give up their compensation packages and Obama introduces the concept of merit pay for teachers.  Why is it that the people at the top are NEVER held accountable? We are talking about the siphoning away of billions and billions of our hard earned money.  Screw David Broder and the Village idiots he rode in on, we are frakking angry and we’re going to stay that way.

Now, short of violence, vandalism  and death threats, go forth and get angry.  The times require it.

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