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Thus spoke Kucinich:
The world, alas, is badly made.
Over at The Poor Man Institute, they have a concise analysis of the media love for McSame:
No wonder our political system is broken. But what did you expect? This is how advanced capitalism works.
All social institutions get co-opted by ruling class interests. Those institutions, such as the mass media or public higher education, that regard themselves as independent of the state for the purposes of critical analysis of it have already been taken over by the same managerial functionaries who control the state itself.
That members of the media or the academy think of themselves as independent in any real sense is either self-delusion or propaganda. (Well, that's a little harsh, I realize. There are journalists and professors who are, in fact, critical voices, but they are ignored by the institutions they inhabit and society in general to the extent that they resist co-optation. More so for the media, perhaps. The academy is probably the last battleground for capitalist control.)
At first, I thought this was a joke. It is not. Talk about stupid.
Look, if you think that having more guns in schools is going to diminish violence — a belief I strongly disagree with — then hire more police officers to patrol the schools. The last thing any crisis needs is amateurs with guns.
Let Krugman explain, from his column today:
It is pure political cynicism to advocate policies that you know won't work. The strategy is a key part of the political spectacle. Convince voters that the situation is simple and the worse thing to do it think about it. Appeal to childishness ("You can have that pony if you close your eyes and wish hard enough!") and the worst in people ("They don't look like us; it must be their fault!") in order to get into power to serve the interests of the corporate class. Blame the "thinking class" (such as teachers or scientists or all educated professionals) when things go inevitably wrong and push for more oversimplification and posturing.
It seems to work perfectly in a country with a lazy, vain electorate.
Maybe 2008 will be different. Here's hoping.
From Countdown on August 4. Keith is discussing McCain's "celebrity" attack ad with Jonathan Alter of Newsweek:
It is pointless to ask whether or not McCain himself is racist. The Republicans' campaign strategy certainly is. It is the politics of racial resentment — page one of the Republican campaign playbook for forty years. If McCain isn't a racist, he's a cynical political opportunist.
Don't expect this to ease up before November. It is going to get much, much worse. As Alter said on the show, there is a "smear gap" between the parties. Alter explains:
The sad thing is that American voters keep falling for it.
Go, right now, and read the G-man's latest post. I'll wait.
The Americanized fascism that he is discussing is a problem that will grow worse before it gets better, especially if Obama wins. Nothing like a little old-fashioned racism to get the nascent fascists in a froth. They have been preaching eliminationism for a while now. With the economy in recession, the howls of "cultural decline" will grow louder, and that invariably leads to scapegoating.
I'm not a big fan of Obama's policy proposals — I prefer a more progressive candidate — but his political style might be an effective weapon against the extremists on the Right. Hope is a powerful alternative to the politics of violent resentment.
More wisdom from Paul Krugman today:
He aptly worries that if Americans let themselves be manipulated by easy claims of lower energy prices, we won't ever have the political will to do what is necessary to save the planet.
As long as one of our two political parties is bought and paid for by the pollution industries, you can be sure that cynicism will never be in short supply.
I think that environmental awareness is increasing, but I am not optimistic that we've reached a tipping point as a culture. We desperately need real leadership on this issue. It is an opportunity for scientists and science organizations to take the lead in the effort to educate the people.
But we also need the Democrats to call bullshit on the Republicans when they make their false promises of easy energy.
Bill Maher says
I quite agree!
I guess neither one of us will ever chair a sociology department at a public university.
Read more about his new documentary. It sounds like a hoot.
Another day, another Krugman column explaining how capitalism works: profits are privatized while risks are socialized. It's a system of private betting with public money.
Throughout the financial industry, executives received huge bonuses when they seemed to be earning big profits, but didn’t have to give the money back when those profits turned into even bigger losses.
Who loses? Do I even have to ask?
Let us hope that this is the end of the cracker saga, though I know well that it isn't. Religion makes people powerfully stupid, and there are certainly enough opportunists around (like that gasbag who started all this) to keep egging on the stupid ones. Oh well.
Beyond the spectacle of offending the easily offended (and those who never pass up an opportunity to let everyone else know that they are offended), what is the important idea here? Let me quote from Dr Evil (no, not that Dr Evil, I mean PZ, the new Dr Evil):
Making fun of a cracker is the express ticket to hell, apparently, but conspiring to cover up a major child sex abuse ring is nothing to lose sleep over. And who is the crazy, evil one? Like I said, religion makes people powerfully stupid.
If you haven't already seen it, I expand on this idea myself.
Congratulations, PZ, on becoming a truly dangerous professor!
Let's cut right to the point:
The problem is not that conservatives have lost their way in their quest for The Perfect Reactionary Brand, it is that their ideas have always been bankrupt but for a while many voters were too distracted to notice. Not so now.
I see that PZ has captured the attention of that gasbag over at the Catholic People's Liberation Front. Once again we see that believers insist that everyone respect their delusions. Sorry, but I don't play that game. I call crazy where I see it, and I am pleased that PZ does too.
I got named one of the Most Dangerous Professors in the Universe for suggesting that believers might not be as moral as they think they are. (I believe the phrase I used was "moral retards.") I think it is safe to say that Professor Myers will make the list in the second edition. Good work, PZ! Welcome to the club!
Whenever the gasbag sends out his flying monkeys you can be sure that the hate mail will start piling up. More evidence of their moral superiority, I guess.
I've written to the U of M president in defense of Prof. Myers, and I encourage everyone to do the same. Let's not let a professional hysteric and his noisy troops determine what can and cannot be said publicly.
BONUS: I get a kick out of all those who write to say "I'm a taxpayer and since you work for a public institution, I should have the right to determine what you can say." I got a lot of those letters too. Sorry, assholes, let me explain how this works. When I'm off the clock, my speech is my own. You can go fuck yourselves. Take your silly crackers with you.
It has been agonizing to read the news from Zimbabwe recently. What can be done? The U.S., thanks to an ugly colonial history topped off by the arrogant and incompetent Bush regime, cannot intervene directly. We have to hope that others can find the wisdom to change the course of events there.
It was encouraging to read William Gumede's column in the Post today:
I hope that enough African governments have the courage to stand against the Mugabe dictatorship and that Western countries can, for once, put humanity before profits.
Mr Alicublog is on the top of his game today:
I am too much the pessimist to believe that by continuing to poke holes in the insane justifications for the endless occupation of Iraq the neocons and the fighting keyboardists who love them will shut up and go home. Or that their arguments won't be treated as serious by the pundit class. Still, it helps one's sanity to be reminded that their justifications really are full of shit.
I sincerely hope that the McCain campaign listens to the whispers of these same neocons and makes Iraq the center of their platform in the general election. I understand well that many Americans will be fooled by the politics of fear and pseudo-patriotism. But I do think that there are enough sane voters who can see the occupation for the catastrophic blunder that it is, and who will be roused to action by the ongoing attempt to bullshit them. The neocons won't go home by choice, but we can send them away with a landslide rejection.
I'm all for evolutionary psychology. After all, evolution is one of the great achievements of science. Psychology (and sociology and anthropology) should be informed by biology, just as they should obey the laws of chemistry and physics. I'm all for evolutionary psychology. I just wish someone would develop one.
What passes for evo-psych now is just discredited sociobiology is a cheap tuxedo. Evolution is a biological process, not a metaphor. I don't think it is too much to ask that proponents of a scientific evolutionary psychology understand evolution. Nor do I think it is too much to ask that any scientific theory be based on empirical data and not elaborations of stereotypes and just-so stories that appeal to those stereotypes.
Like I said, evolutionary psychology — it would be a great idea.
I've just finished reading the chapter on evo-psych in Natalie Angier's Woman: An Intimate Geography. It is a thorough and amusing fisking of the testosterone-fueled musings of Evolutionary Psychology. Angier, a Pulitzer Prize winning science writer, splendidly reduces this pseudo-science to its essence:
My friend Karla called my attention to this:
As always, the cat speaks truth.
There was even a brief appearance by one of the nation's Most Dangerous Professors.
The students were really the stars of the show. I feel a great deal of pride every time I watch them in action. Their efforts will change this nation, and the world.
It isn't difficult to see why the capitalist class likes the status quo so much (and the BushCo that ensures that it does). They get to make private bets with public money. They profit; we suffer.
As usual, Paul Krugman explains it neatly:
We don't people vote for their interests? *sigh*
We are doomed to live before the revolution, and so must ask these questions. What is wrong with us?
The working class and the employing class have nothing in common. There can be no peace so long as hunger and want are found among millions of the working people and the few, who make up the employing class, have all the good things of life. Between these two classes a struggle must go on until the workers of the world organize as a class, take possession of the means of production, abolish the wage system, and live in harmony with the Earth. -- IWW
In a democracy it is necessary that people should learn to endure having their sentiments outraged. -- Bertrand Russell
Let us strangle the last king with the entrails of the last priest. -- Denis Diderot
It's not that no one sees the straight line to Doomtown we've been on since Reagan, it's that there's big profits in it. The most superficially Christian and Other-Worldly-Yearning nation in the developed world is the one most likely to kill you for your shoes. -- Doghouse Riley
The true purpose of education is to try to foster in students a kind of critical cosmopolitanism, such that they learn, among other things, to question any notion that one’s nation or tribe is favored by God or destiny. -- Michael Bérubé
It is not enough to decry the existence of the Spectacle. We intend to use both art and theory as a battering ram against Capitalism and its false opposition, tribalism, in all of its mystical forms. We believe it is possible to move beyond the inexcusable savagery of everyday life. -- The Anti-Naturals
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