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      So, last night, after a few days of illness, getting worse, I took some codeine and a sleeping pill, lay myself down to sleep, and couldn’t. Right then, obviously serious enough that I needed to go the hospital. I arrived, at one of Toronto’s (Canada’s largest city) largest hospitals. There was no one else in […]
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Tuesday: Disgusting

Awhile back, when the Occupy Movement was at its zenith, I speculated on why the naysayers were concentrating on the cleanliness aspect of occupation sites:

Speaking of theories, I have a new one about Karl Rove’s Crossroads GPS ads against Elizabeth Warren and other Democratic Senate candidates.  It has to do with cleanliness.  This is based on a limited number of data points but if the hard core Fox News lovers I know are any indication, there are lot of people who are very fastidious about their bodies.  Chalk it up to a long gone era when virginity was prized (for some weird reason that bears no resemblance to reality) and nice girls didn’t indulge in unorthodox sexual activity.  Home Ec was not an elective.  Fastidiousness, cleanliness, keeping one’s personal habits and thoughts tidy or at least being ashamed of them- all very important.  Holy hemiola!, have you ever heard one of them go off about homosexuality??  It’s all about the dirtiness, *physical* dirtiness, that they dislike.  Now, I’m not sure that the typical Fox News viewer always felt this way about a little filth but for some reason, they are now.  Some conditioning from 5 decades ago has been pricked and Rove knows how to work it.  And just think about all that mud at Woodstock…

This is the video from the Crossroads foundation:

Looks like I was on to something.  Yesterday, an article in the NYTimes explained our human reaction to disgusting things and how that reaction can be used politically:

Disgust is the Cinderella of emotions. While fear, sadness and anger, its nasty, flashy sisters, have drawn the rapt attention ofpsychologists, poor disgust has been hidden away in a corner, left to muck around in the ashes.

No longer. Disgust is having its moment in the light as researchers find that it does more than cause that sick feeling in the stomach. It protects human beings from disease and parasites, and affects almost every aspect of human relations, from romance to politics.

[…]

Speaking last week from a conference on disgust in Germany, Valerie Curtis, a self-described “disgustologist” from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, described her favorite emotion as “incredibly important.”

She continued: “It’s in our everyday life. It determines our hygiene behaviors. It determines how close we get to people. It determines who we’re going to kiss, who we’re going to mate with, who we’re going to sit next to. It determines the people that we shun, and that is something that we do a lot of.”

It begins early, she said: “Kids in the playground accuse other kids of having cooties. And it works, and people feel shame when disgust is turned on them.”

Some studies have suggested that political conservatives are more prone to disgust than liberals are. And it is clear that what people find disgusting they often find immoral, too.

It adds to the popularity of disgust as a subject of basic research that it is easier to elicit in an ethical manner than anger or fear. You don’t have to insult someone or make anyone afraid for his or her life — a bad smell will do the trick. And disgust has been relatively easy to locate in the brain, where it frequents the insula, the amygdala and other regions.

Toldja.

If you found yourself initially sympathizing with the Occupy Movement but stayed away from the sites because you found yourself disgusted with the thought of coming in contact with filth, lice and STDs, you’ve been pwned by some savvy political operatives who were probably retained by the 1% to trash the reputation of the nascent movement.  Granted, some of those sites weren’t allowed access to toilets and their campsites were crude.  But I never witnessed mounds of trash or vermin in Zuccotti park when I visited the site on multiple occasions.  In fact, it was kept very clean with makeshift recycle stations made of recyclable cardboard and broom stands.  Once I detected the scent of pee in one corner of the park but at the GA that evening, the issue was addressed: If you have to pee in the middle of the night, get your ass out of your sleeping bag and go find an open bathroom.  Don’t pee in containers.

I now suspect that the feelings of disgust were very deliberately generated in the media and youtube videos in order to keep people from going down to the occupation sites and seeing that the Occupiers were just ordinary, everyday people.  That’s the last thing the small evil group to which no one we know belongs wants.  They don’t want us to mingle and start sympathizing with each other.  That would mean visitors would go back and tell their friends and they would bring two people and so on and so on.  Nooooo, that’s not a good thing.  Too many people feeling a sense of community against the 1%?  Before you know it, they would be turning off their TVs, feeding the poor, sympathizing with the unemployed and demanding the immediate arrest and indefinite detention of the bankers who are perched on Wall Street thinking they are untouchable by the long arm of the law.  Obama might have to *do* something about it.  We can’t have that.

By the way, the NYTimes is particularly good at making us disgusted with the unemployed.  They perfected the front page story of the unemployed that featured middle aged, obese and unattractive women.  Well, who wants to be one of *those* people?  It’s sort of a carry over from the days when trashing Hillary supporters as being middle aged, uneducated, working class women ala Roseanne Barr.  It makes it so much easier to f%^& them over when you think of them as low class losers, right? If you are wondering why there is so much antagonism towards the unemployed, you can thank the New York Times for doing its part. In fact, I don’t know anyone who looks like the people the Times featured as the typical unemployed person, including myself.  Everyone I know who is unemployed is a former labrat with a fistful of degrees and none of them have a severe weight problem, lank, greasy hair or a slovenly appearance.

I expect to see more of this kind of thing.  I think the researchers are right about conservatives being more sensitive to disgust and it’s relationship, in their minds, to immorality.  Conservatives are easily disgusted by the thought of sex between men and sex in general.  Oral sex?  Instantly generates a gag reflex in them.  (In fact, I don’t like giving advice to Republicans but if anyone’s interested in taking Gingrich out of the running, they might want to repeat the stories about him getting blow jobs in the front seat of his car.  It will turn women over the age of 70 right off of their Newters kibble.) It doesn’t help that they get messages from their religious authorities about how dirty fornication is. Think “Purity Balls”. This is something you will probably not be able to overcome in the social conservative’s mind.  It’s so hardwired from decades and decades of guilt tripping and punishment and an almost Pavlovian conditioning linking filth with sex that it’s just not worth the effort.

Frankly, I don’t know *what* will finally be the thing that gets through to them.  What will it take before they realize that their own upbringing, generational history and backgrounds have  been used against them to create the most unequal distribution of power and wealth this country has ever known?  I have no idea but I’d hate to find out.

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WHO coordinated the raids?

Occupiers during the Zuccotti Park raid

One data point is just data.  Two points are a trend.  Three points are a correlation.

Denver, Portland, Oakland, New York.

And we musn’t forget Chapel Hill, North Carolina.  For years, an abandoned car dealership was a blight on the town’s business environment but no one did anything about it.  Then, the Occupy Movement stepped in and occupied the building and, voile!  Last Sunday, the cops moved in and arrested the occupiers for squatting.  Township authorities cleared their agendas and focused on solving the suddenly most important issue before them – condemning the building.

Why the rush?

On Monday, when Mayor of Oakland, CA, Jean Quan’s legal council quit, he said something cryptic about supporting Occupy Oakland and not the 1%.  That was interesting.  And then the deputy mayor quit too.  Then we find out that Quan was one of 18 mayors nationwide  on a conference call sometime in the past week where allegedly they planned to break up the occupy protests.

There are three possibilities for who coordinated the raids:

1.) The mayors were all good golfing buddies, got together over a few beers and decided all on their own to rid themselves of these meddlesome protestors.

2.) The 1% organized an online Mayor’s Retreat where participants offered charitable donations to the cities who took a more proactive approach to cleaning up their parks.  Does Oakland need to buy some property for a new school?  Does Chapel Hill find itself short on funds for their downtown business zone Renaissance project?  It wasn’t a coordinated effort to shut down the Occupy Movement.  It was simply a way for the 1% to give back to these communities and pair up interested benefactors with cities that have been stretching their tax dollars as far as they could go and were still falling short of their obligations.  Call it Noblesse Oblige.

3.) One (or both) of the political parties was involved in cleaning up the Occupy Movement.  It could have been either party because both take wads of cash from the 1% and have an interest in keeping their finance industry masters happy.  But there’s only one party in charge of the executive branch departments that might prove useful to coordinating the clean up.  But that’s just a conspiracy theory and you will never find the fingerprints of anyone in particular on the documents.  But I would love to know who set up that conference call.  And isn’t it conveeeenient that it all went down right after that off year election where so many politicians were forced to give lip service to the “huddled masses yearning to breathe free”.  Maybe it was the Republicans.  They haven’t chosen a nominee yet and maybe they don’t want to be put on the spot, having to scrunch up their faces and make little strangled choking noises about how the Occupiers are speaking for some terribly misguided but well-meaning people who should be working.  But if that were the case, how did they manage to get Democratic mayors like Jean Quan and Portland Mayor Sam Adams (with a name like that, he really should be an occupier) to go along with it?

So, here we see clear evidence of a coordinated effort but we don’t know what motivated the mayors to terminate the occupations.  The timing is suspicious.  There is no doubt now that there was a conference call.  And the resignation of Dan Siegal in Oakland suggests that the 1% are involved, whether by itself or through some political/electoral coordinating committee.

I want to know WHO did it.

Who decided to get together and terminate the peaceful assemblies of these occupiers to protest and speak?  Who decided to use the excuse of “cleaning” (or, more accurately, “cleansing”) the parks?  Who put together the trigger words that they all used about health and safety and danger and crime?  Who has associated those words with a group of people who are protesting social inequality brought on by the unchecked and reckless behavior of the 1%?  And while we’re at it, if the cities were so concerned with sanitation and hygiene, why did they make it so difficult to get porta potties at the sites?  And why do they permit vampire romance addled teenagers to camp out in a parking lot in front of a theater for 5 days for tickets to a silly movie without subjecting them to pepperspray, batons and arrests for unlawful, unpermitted assemblies?

And what is the meaning of an unpermitted assembly?  The very idea violates the spirit of the first amendment that says that citizens have the right to assemble and speak.  If you have to ask for a permit to do this, isn’t that the same as saying you don’t really have this right because someone else has the power to deny you the permit?  I am not a lawyer but it seems to me that the Constitution was written broadly enough that powerful people have been able to argue that just about any truncation of your rights are permissable because the Constitution didn’t explicitly say “no”.  Why is it that movements like Occupy Wall Street are routinely shut down?  Why is it that so many grassroot movements such as the Occupy movement fail to take root because they can’t get permits?

Anyway, I want answers.  I want mayors who have been “forced” to cooperate for fear that their local and state parties might lose campaign funds to come forth and tell us the truth.  It won’t go well for them if they don’t tell the public the truth and the truth comes out anyway. Now that the press have had their own rights violated and reporters roughed up, they have an interest in finding this out for themselves.   The timing was really, really bad from a PR standpoint.  It came way too soon after an election.  And now a whole year stretches before us so that those of us who have questions and demand answers can keep this issue going.

The coordinators didn’t end the movement.  No, the idiots focussed the concentration of the nation with laser like intensity on the Occupiers now.  The way these raids were carried out, complete with jack booted thugs and helicopters in the middle of the night, is enough to make even the most whacked out 2nd amendment nutcase sympathetic and make the most liberal minded crunchy granola type think that owning a gun to defend yourself against governmental overreach isn’t such a bad idea.  So, whoever it was who planned this hamhanded operation should be congratulated for finally finding common ground between the two extremist ends of the parties.

Concern in Chapel Hill after Sunday's raid

If I were to hazard a guess, I’d go with Rahm Emmanuel’s syndicate.  Yep, he’s got the whole mayor thing going, he’s in Chicago, which has a reputation, he’s familiar with how to use the 1%’s money to gain political influence in an election year and he’s not into subtlety.  There’s just enough distance between him and the 1% and the Obama campaign and just enough irritation from the merry pranksters of Occupy Chicago that it would make it look entirely reasonable for him to want to squelch them and help his fellow mayors squelch them.

That’s my hypothesis.  What kind of data to we need to make a correlation?

Clap harder, CLAP HAAAARDER!!!

Typed “daily” into the Google search bar looking for the Daily Show, got DailyKos instead.  What the heck, let’s see what they have on the first page.  Oh, it’s a post by DemFromCT titled “What if the Economic News Gets Better?

{{faceplant}}

First, there’s an oh so brief blurb on the Greek sovereign debt crisis, that looks like it’s going to turn out ok anyway!  Isn’t that great??  The stock market is doing ok and the Euro bounced back, but we still hate Wall Street.  But our 401Ks are doing well, not that any Kossacks care about materialism and filthy lucre made on the backs of working people all over the world.  Dayum, do you see the slope on that curve?  It’s f%c^ing *awesome*!

But then, the post gets serious and discusses the GDP.

Right, who are we fooling?  Oh, right, these are Kossacks, who were used as a giant male fraternity party clueless focus group for the Obama campaign in 2008.  So, the bad news is that GDP was only 0.7% for the first half of the year.  The good news is that it was 2.5% in the 3rd quarter!  Isn’t that great?  That will keep those nasty wasty Republicans (boo!, hiss!  boo!) at bay next year because if this keeps up for the 4th quarter, we’ll have an average annual GDP for 2011 of …

… wait for it…

.

.

.

… it’s going to be good…

.

1.6%!!

{{cue the bad magician music}} Da-da-DA-DA-da-DA-da-DA-DA, Da-da-DA-DA-da-DA-da-DAAA!!

Uhhh, guys?  That’s not that good.  And you know what?  9.2% unemployment is a bigger number and likely to stick in the public’s mind a lot longer.  Just think about it: next year, presidential candidate’s debate, Obama gets up there and announces a sensational 1.6% GDP, pats himself on the back, because that is so Barry. Romney furrows his brow (provided he can actually move it) and says, almost sotto voce “9.2% unemployment”, shakes his head, glances at Obama, looks down at his podium, shuffles his notes, shakes his head again, sighs.

See where I’m going with this?   A GDP of 1.6% is anemic.  Check out this post from Brad Plumer at WaPo.  Here’s the money quote:

The economy grew at a 2.5 percent annualized pace in the third quarter of 2011, according to new Commerce Department data released this morning. Seeing as how plenty of economists were grumbling about a double-dip recession not too long ago, even modest growth counts as cheering news. But 2.5 percent growth won’t bring us back to full employment anytime soon. So how much growth do we actually need?

Short answer: A lot more. Back in August, the Congressional Budget Office released its revised GDP forecasts and predicted that the economy would gallop along with 3.6 percent growth between 2013 and 2016. Now, as Jeffrey Frankel has shown, government forecasters tend to err on the optimistic sign, but even in the CBO’s sunny scenario, we wouldn’t hit full employment until 2017.

It’s not enough to keep Social Security payroll taxes streaming in to keep the system going.  One year or two maybe we can make up the difference.  But four?  With another four more years of Barry at the wheel carrying on the Bush legacy and trying to make Grand Bargains with the Republicans to give away virtually all we have left?  What are you guys smoking over there?

The next part of the post is the funniest:

Sure, none of this changes the huge need for jobs or fixes the housing crisis, but with Obama pounding jobs bills and student relief (and some of it actually getting into the headlines and onto the news), it might just reverse the bad news coverage Obama has been getting this year.

It’s of special importance because the GOP really has nothing beyond economic frustration to run on. Their plan, be it this week’s flat tax, last week’s 9-9-9 or Paul Ryan’s disastrous roadmap is all the same: coddle the rich and screw the middle class. No one likes their plan, but with a tanking economy, no one is going to reward incumbents.

So what happens if a year from now, the economy isn’t tanking? Keep in mind the Republicans have no Plan B if America does well.

So, we admit that Obama has been a failure, just as we Conflucians predicted him to be back in 2008, given that he was an inexperienced, political unknown who seemed to flinch whenever anyone called him a Democrat and was being funded by Wall Street in vast quantities (We HATE Wall Street! Remember? But look at my 401K!!).  And we admit that he clusterf^&*ed the housing foreclosure crisis and the unemployment crisis and sure, it looks bad.  But that’s just because Obama keeps getting bad news coverage.  If he gets *good* news coverage, we unemployed people who can’t pay our mortgages will just let bygones be bygones.

And what’s this about the GOP plan to “coddle the rich and screw the middle class”?  I thought that was Obama and the Congress’s plan.  Isn’t it?  Because that’s what it looks like to me.  If Obama and the Democrats have the same plan as Romney and the Republicans, how are we supposed to tell them apart?  Better yet, why should I vote for either of them?  There are other options on the ballot and, who knows, by this time next year, there may be a third viable candidate.  The Occupy movement has unveiled a deep dissatisfaction with both parties.

What is Obama’s Plan B anyway?  I mean, if he wins re-election in 2012, he doesn’t have to have one, you nitwits.  Which is why you shouldn’t be giving him a pass.  You should be on his case and vowing not to vote for him unless he does something for you *before* the election.  Unless all you care about is your 401K.  (Didja see the slope on that graph??)  Even Steve Jobs told Obama that his poor performance on the economy was going to cost him the White House in 2012.  True story.  It’s in Jobs’ new biography by Walter Isaacson.  And we know that Jobs was pretty damn good at getting a feel for what people want.  (Have you checked the quarterly earnings for Apple these days??  Amazing!  Oh, but we HATE Wall Street)

Look, you Kossacks screwed up good in 2008 and as a result, the pain and misery for millions of Americans is going to continue for a long, long time if either Romney OR Obama wins next year. Yes, YOU, You are responsible. The best thing you can do is stop trying so hard to make this sound better than it is.  Stop lying to yourselves and each other.  If you want to make this better, tell Obama to step down now and let someone else with longer coattails take on the Republicans.  Even you guys can’t possibly be as delusional as DemFromCT’s post.

By the way, he could have stopped what happened in Oakland on Tuesday night if he really cared about citizens and their first amendment rights.  There’s an Iraq War veteran who is now in the hospital in critical condition because of this out of control overreaction by “riot police”, if that’s what we’re calling them these days.

I don’t know what is worse, that they knocked this poor guy out and seriously injured him or that they tried to prevent other people from helping him.  I haven’t been so disgusted with the behavior of police in a long time.  This is outrageous.

**************************

In a bit of good news, apparently, Elizabeth Warren’s embrace of the Occupy Movement hasn’t dampened the enthusiasm of the people of Massachusetts who want to work for her senate campaign.  This is a picture of the people who volunteered on Tuesday to lend her campaign a hand.

Golly!  Can we clone her??