Thursday, January 13, 2011

Are We Ready For the Crazies? Has the Social Contract Broken Down? (Why "We" Hate Venuzuela and Chavez (Cause the Kochs Force US To For High Gains!))

Has It (the Social Contract) Started to Unravel On a National Basis? Based on the right-wing outrage expressed mainly by the MSM about the false charges made by the Left about Jared Loughner's probable motivations, I cannot help but think as I sit in my local Barnes and Noble typing away and reading leisurely from various books that strike my fancy, that the people surrounding me have absolutely nothing to do with the people who are breathlessly awaiting some social cataclysm whereby the fake Conservatives take back the government from the non-native born and therefore unqualified election stealer, the Kenyan usurper, and save the day ( a la Superman (or Batman or Wonder Woman, etc.). I guess we here in Greensboro, North Carolina, are a rather unrepresentative lot (you might think), a cosmopolitan group, ordering lattes and cappuccinos (frappuccinos!) and Tazo chai tea as the world of the right-wing crazies (at MacDonalds, probably) plots the next coup against Obama's heathcare plan and anyone who gets in their way to world domination. The uncivilized behavior evidenced in the news from Arizona and the "reporting" from the MSM seems so unreal. It's just hard to see from my perspective, I guess, but I think I'm safe when I say we are inundated by it and it certainly sounds serious. Karoli over at Crooks and Liars has about the best reporting (all things considered, etc.,) of where we are right now (and it's not pretty or inspiring - I'm warning you). I really enjoyed when she called out the fake religionist Erick Erickson for cursing about goat-sexing right after declaring himself a man of Jesus. I'm particularly a fan of how she expresses herself when she says flatly (emphasis marks added - Ed.):

Our corporate media is a handmaiden of the right's strategy, and it's not just Fox News. It runs the gamut, from the Sunday talk shows to Chuck Todd's idiotic commentary on MSNBC.

As I've been saying this for years, mainly to the sound of crickets, it's good to hear that others are just as concerned although I have to admit that the whatever has hit the whatever way faster than even I have been prepared.
karoli's blog

January 12, 2011

Art of War, Media Messages, and Conservative Terrorists

The debate rages on, and thanks to media spin and constant false equivalencies, at least one poll has 57% of its respondents rejecting any possibility of inflammatory speech having any influence over Jared Lee Loughner's actions on Saturday morning. Welcome to the confluence of media echoes and denial.

It was predictable, this la-la-la response. Kneejerk, even. No one wants to believe that words can influence, because that would require individuals to own their own words. God forbid.

This is true in every context but politics, it seems. I believe there are some things one doesn't say to their spouse unless they really mean it. Words like "I want a divorce", "I hate you", "I want to be with someone else" are not things one says unless they're prepared to follow through with the appropriate actions. This is because once that barrier is broken, it cannot be rebuilt. The foundations of that marriage are forever weakened and possibly broken. Matt Taibbi takes that one step further.

Which makes sense. If we're being honest with ourselves, we in the media understand that our job descriptions do not entirely overlap with the requirements of good citizenship. If you're in a marriage, or are a parent or living with parents, or have brothers or sisters or close friends, when you argue over a difficult issue, you don't just take out all the weaponry in your arsenal and blast away. In the interests of preserving the relationship, and because you respect and love the other person as a human being, you argue as politely and respectfully as possible. And your goal in arguing is always to fix the actual problem - there's no other, ulterior motive.

That's just not the case in either journalism (and I should know - more on that momentarily) or politics. In politics, you don't need to treat everyone with decency and humanity, just 51% of the crowd. Actually, given that half or less than half of all people don't vote, the percentage of people who require basic decency and indulgence is probably even lower than that, maybe 20-25% of the population. There's plenty of power and money to be won by skillfully stimulating public anger against some or all of the rest, and there are few rewards for restraint.

This idea of "skillfully stimulastochastic terrorismting public anger" has been a long-held prong of the right-wing strategy. Call it "" or media manipulation. Whatever it is, Eric Heubeck spelled it out in a Free Congress Foundation essay in 2001.

"We will maintain a constant barrage of criticism against the Left. We will attack the very legitimacy of the Left. We will not give them a moment's rest. We will endeavor to prove that the Left does not deserve to hold sway over the heart and mind of a single American. We will offer constant reminders that there is an alternative, there is a better way.

When people have had enough of the sickness and decay of today’s American culture, they will be embraced by and welcomed into the New Traditionalist movement. The rejection of the existing society by the people will thus be accomplished by pushing them and pulling them simultaneously."

The principles in this essay are foundational to the teachings of Morton Blackwell's Leadership Institute which churns out young conservative soldiers at an alarming rate, and it is clearly framed in violent, warlike terms, even summarizing their "movement" as one which "serve[s] as a force of social intimidation in its intermediate stage..

We will use guerrilla tactics to undermine the legitimacy of the dominant regime. We will take advantage of every available opportunity to spread the idea that there is something fundamentally wrong with the existing state of affairs. For example, we could have every member of the movement put a bumper sticker on his car that says something to the effect of "Public Education is Rotten; Homeschool Your Kids."

This will change nobody's mind immediately; no one will choose to stop sending his children to public schools immediately after seeing such a bumper sticker; but it will raise awareness and consciousness that there is a problem. Most of all, it will contribute to a vague sense of uneasiness and dissatisfaction with existing society. We need this if we hope to start picking people off and bringing them over to our side. We need to break down before we can build up. We must first clear away the flotsam of a decayed culture.

This is a structure carefully built on the shoulders of Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck. It is intended to create a culture of distrust and instability - a culture which can and does contribute to the views of people like Jared Lee Loughner.

This is why they seize on issues like illegal immigration, allow birthers to continue with their ridiculous nonsense, and view the success of the health care bill as the rise of the antiChrist. Especially the health care bill, because in their eyes, it represents victory of a "leftist" view over the traditional right-wing view; that is, the idea that people have a right to access health care. This is why it's so important to them that a repeal/de-funding effort be undertaken right away, and it's why they continue to be so vile in their attacks on it. It's not about health care. It's about the victory of a perceived left-wing idea over right-wing philosophies.

Erick Erickson at RedState says he's "tired of talking about Arizona", because it isn't about left or right wing politics. It's only about the fact that Loughner was delusional to him. He goes on to evangelize for the cause of Christ (this, from a guy who had no compunction or remorse about calling a sitting Supreme Court justice a "goat-f*cker), claiming there's a "great chasm in this world between the saved and the damned."

Erickson is spouting the language of the Palin/Bachmann/O'Donnell Dominionists who believe beyond all else that they are entitled to inhabit the halls of government because they were chosen. It is a dangerous kind of cult-religion, the C Street kind of religion that harbors a true belief in their entitlement, and anger that it has been wrenched away from them from a mixed-race guy who might not even be a Christian. His goal is to pivot the discussion away from facts and toward some ephemeral faith-based acceptance of the mayhem wrought by the right-wing chaos tactics and one young man's disturbed thought life.

Just another diversion to pivot attention away from the truth, which is this: Inflammatory, eliminationist rhetoric surely carries an impact. A mental health professional speaking to Greg Sargent had this opinion:

"We know the manifestation of mental illness is affected by cultural factors," Dr. Swartz said. "One's cultural context does effect people's thinking and particularly their delusions. It gives some content and shape to their delusions. While we don know whether there was a specific relationship between the political climate that he was exposed to and his thinking, it's a reasonable line of inquiry to explore."

Asked whether Loughner's mental illness invalidated questions as to whether his behavior might have been partly caused by the political climate or by violent rhetoric and imagery, Dr. Swartz said it shouldn't.

"Studying the cultural influences on people's delusions or persecutory thinking, and looking at different aspects of culture and how they effect people's behavior, is a legitmate area of inquiry," Dr. Swartz said.

The crux, lost in the national din. It's not a direct cause-effect, despite the best efforts of many to say so. Palin's graphic probably didn't trigger Loughner's outrage, but she and her advisors understood its intent, which is why they were so quick to scrub it. The daily "barrage of criticism" does pack a punch, as does intentionally creating a culture of "news-speak" where people are led on a daily basis to believe "something is wrong."

Our corporate media is a handmaiden of the right's strategy, and it's not just Fox News. It runs the gamut, from the Sunday talk shows to Chuck Todd's idiotic commentary on MSNBC. They begin with a presumption of truth from conservatives, and work from there to deflect or just outright lie about liberals' claims. It enables chaos and hate on a daily basis, whether for power or for money, or for both. But most importantly, it's part of a larger and more destructive strategy to destroy liberals.

Bonus: Media Matters' David Brock on the coming storm. Bottom line: We ain't seen nothing yet.

Bonus #2: Today a man named Charles Turner Habermann was arrested for making threats against California WA Rep. Jim McDermott. Habermann is a constituent of Mary Bono Mack (R-CA). The FBI affidavit is here (PDF). Read the affidavit for a flavor of how ingrained these right-wing talking points are. This posting includes an audio/video/photo media file: Download Now

Fox talkers demand Sheriff Dupnik produce evidence. Since when has evidence ever mattered to Fox talkers?

And just in case you haven't figured out that the MSM has been feeding you a load of bull about the "bad guy" Hugo Chavez, you should read the following essay carefully. It will benefit us to actually learn about other countries' policies and responses to disaster (as well as exactly what rightwingnut paragons were funding socialist endeavors all over the globe). Honestly. It will. (As if you hadn't already realized that the companies funding these ventures weren't completely amoral (like the Kochs - no wonder they are worth billions and rule the US - they steal BIG!!!).)
Freemarket Failures: Investors Prefer Doing Business With Hugo Chavez Over Billionaire Koch Brothers You didn't hear this on Fox News or the Drudge Report, but on October 10 Venezuela seized and nationalized a massive fertilizer plant part-owned by Koch Industries. The media silence is a bit puzzling. You'd think that the seizure of property belonging to America's second-largest private company, owned by one of the most powerful families in the country and the bankrollers of today's libertarian/Tea Party revolution - the billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch - would be considered newsworthy.

But no, even though their Venezuela plant was nationalized a whole three months ago, other than a handful of short business-wire dispatches, this has yet to make the news. Even Koch Industries has been suspiciously silent on the matter. One reason why the Kochs could be keeping the news under wraps is that the nationalization of the fertilizer plant may appear to be bad news for Charles and David Koch, but here's the big surprise:

the Kochs made hundreds of millions on every end of this deal and even more surprising, bond markets cheered the nationalization.

In other words, the free markets championed by the Kochs gave a big thumbs-down to Kochs' negative influence on the value of the business, while at the same time, the free-market Kochs earned huge windfalls doing business with socialists.

No wonder this story hasn't made the rounds. Here's what happened:

When Chavez's nationalization of the plant took Koch Industries out of the picture, bond investors responded by driving up the value of the company's bond debt by a whopping 33 percent. That means they had a lot more confidence that the debts would be paid back AFTER the free-market Kochs were out of the picture.

As every business school flunky knows, price fluctuations of bonds are very much like those of stocks: the more they cost, the higher the confidence in a given company. And that means investors had less faith in the ability of the Kochs to run a tight business operation than they did in a bunch of Venezuelan socialist bureaucrats.

For a free-market family like the Kochs, such a big pro-nationalization thumbs up from the Invisible Hand isn't just bad PR, it's downright embarrassing.

Here's a dispatch filed by United Arab Emirates-based/Gulf Today/ describing the nationalization: *Koch Industries awaits Venezuela takeover*

October 18, 2010

CARACAS: Koch Industries said it had received no word that Venezuela nationalised Fertinitro, a large fertilizer maker in which the US-based group has a substantial stake. Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez announced that the takeover of Fertinitro, one of the world's main producers of nitrogen fertilizer, days after vowing to radicalize his socialist "revolution" following legislative elections last month.

Koch has a 35 per cent stake in Fertinitro and Venezuelan state-run petrochemicals company Pequiven has 35 per cent. Saipem, a unit of Italy's Eni, holds 20 per cent and local brewer and food company Polar has the rest.

"Koch Fertilizer has not received any official or informal notice, nor have we received any notification from Fertinitro regarding any disruption," a Koch spokeswoman told Reuters by email. "We are attempting to obtain details and information."

What were true-believer libertarians like the Kochs doing running a fertilizer plant in Venezuela with two state-run companies, anyway? After all, Charles Koch's own Cato Institute brain trust has been writing for decades that government-owned enterprises are less efficient and productive than private companies. The answer is simple: they were there for the subsidies.

As I revealed last September, the Kochs have a long history of tapping into socialist program, s despite their staunch libertarian rhetoric.

Starting with their father, Frederick C. Koch, who amassed the family fortune building up Soviet oil infrastructure in the 1930s during Stalin's first Five Year Plan the family has been sucking on the big government teat for as long as they've been in business, using government subsidies to maximize their own profits, even while funding the libertarian movement and trying to deny government spending on anyone or anything else.

Here are just a few of Charles and David Koch's socialist business deals and schemes from the past few decades:

\ They enrolled their Matador Cattle operation in a New Deal program that allows ranchers to use federal land basically for free, log public forests for private gain and have taxpayers cover the operating costs, and routinely use the government's power of eminent domain to forcibly seize private property on behalf of Koch Industries' various oil and gas pipeline subsidiaries, which stretch from Texas all the way up to the border with Canada.

\ *Fertinitro, where the Kochs come to get their welfare checks?* Their venture in Venezuela followed the same old corporate welfare business strategy. Even as Charles Koch was publicly blaming the Venezuela's poverty and economic woes on the country's socialist policies, his company was taking advantage of the country's heavily subsidized natural gas.

Fertilizer production requires massive amounts of natural gas, which can account for 50 percent of operating costs and seriously eat into profit margins-unless, of course, the natural gas is subsidized by the state. And that is exactly why, in 1998, Koch Industries partnered up with two state-owned companies to build one of the biggest nitrogen-based fertilizer plants in the world.

By investing $100 million - or just 10% of the $1 billion project - the Kochs were able to tap into a guaranteed supply of cheap natural gas, courtesy of the socialist Venezuelan government. Steven Bodzin, a former Bloomberg journalist, found that "just on the natural gas, never mind the electricity or water subsidies, Koch profits from a direct Venezuelan government subsidy of $1.23 for every thousand cubic feet of gas consumed at Fertinitro."

For Koch Industries, whose role in the partnership is to unload half of the 6 million tons of fertilizer produced by Fertinitro every year on the American market, that equals up to $123.6 million in subsidies every year-which means that the Kochs recouped their investment after just one year.

It's clear why Koch Industries went to business with Venezuela (who wouldn't sign up for a deal where they can make 1.2 times their investment just in the first year?) The question is: Why did Venezuela needed to sign up for such a shitty deal with Koch Industries? Let's look back at the history of this project. Planning for the Fertinitro project started a few years before Hugo Chavez became president in 1999, and at a time when Venezuela was being subjected to brutal IMF's "structural reforms", which included the usual painful "austerity" cuts in social programs, and privatization of state industries:

Please read the article for the rest of this sad and so obvious rightwing success story. And if you haven't had enough (which I'm sure you have - I know I have), here's a final denouement from a literary source that might be trying to renew its reputation for courage:

In Carry Me Home, her luminous memoir of growing up in the genteel precincts of Birmingham during that city's ferocious resistance to racial equality, Diane McWhorter writes simply and clearly about those parts of the past that Haley Barbour, that fathead, tried to wish away, to his everlasting shame:

The bombing of the 16th street Baptist Church was the endgame in the city fathers' long and profitable tradition of maintaining their industrial supremacy through vigilantism...

Not that anyone standing in that buffet line that Sunday had anything to do with the lethal package planted during those dark hours before the blast, when no sensible white person would be found in the colored section of downtown. The fuse had been lit years earlier, in the broad daylight of community approval, and even the cleanest hands ... did their bit to keep it dry as it sizzled through bad neighborhoods and across many decades before it blew up four black Sunday school girls on September 15, 1963.

In short, God's curse on all the respectable people. Political violence in America always has been a matter of great convenience to the people who actually own the country. They don't have to inspire it, or finance it. They can even deplore it. All they really have to do is control the reaction to it — not let it get so wild that it disturbs the stock market and, at the same time, not let the reality of political violence disrupt the anesthetic consensus that swaddles the centers of real power.

Thus do we get lone gunmen, and ritualized "healing," and infinite misdirection. Earnest cud-chewing about talk-radio. David Gergen wonders about violence on TV and David Frum talks about marijuana, but nobody asks the old Latin question:

Cui bono? Who profits?

There is even a reluctance in the prim and proper precincts of the elite corporate press to call what happened to Gabrielle Giffords an assassination attempt, and to call what Jared Loughner did a political act, because it is not nice to admit how thoroughly ingrained violence has become in our amnesiac American politics, because then we might ask who profits from walking on the fringe.

Loughner didn't open up on the crowd at first. He didn't climb a bell tower or crash his car into a cafeteria. He walked up to the person he most wanted to kill and he shot her in the head. That person was a member of the United States Congress. What Loughner did was an act of madness, surely, but it was a political act of madness . . . .

But it was the Hunt brothers, rich as twin baby Croesuses, who paid for the newspaper ads calling John F. Kennedy a traitor that appeared in the Dallas newspaper on November 22, 1963.

Since 1964, the respectable members of the national Republican party made a conscious choice to ally themselves with the remnants of American apartheid. Throughout the 1980s, conservatives in the South and West played footsie with dangerous, armed militia groups. There is an armed terrorist wing of the anti-choice movement that, to our knowledge , has not given the politicians allied with that movement a single moment's pause to reconsider their support for it. During the firestorm surrounding the prolonged death of Terri Schiavo, people came right up to the edge of threatening federal judges on the floor of the Congress, and this not long after a rightist gunman murdered the spouse of a federal judge on his doorstep.

None of the respectable people who did this ever paid a price for it. John Cornyn's still a senator. Tom DeLay's going to the hoosegow, but for money-laundering. Absent the indictment, he'd have been re-elected forever.

The country-club set allied itself for the purpose of gaining and maintaining political power with people whose idea of political violence is slightly more than theoretical, egged on by an exaltation of vicious clowns on the radio and television, and to have heard them all defend the open brandishing of firearms at political rallies last summer was to have heard clearly the warning. "We don't have guns, but we know people who do."

Christ. Didn't any of those people have any qualms about wearing the same T-shirt so proudly worn by Timothy McVeigh, the mass murderer of Oklahoma City?

Did it even come up in the sales meetings of the companies that produced them?

Who are the respectable people, the people who light the distant fuse and then walk away? Who owns the companies who produce the T-shirts? Who markets them? Who ships them? Who are the respectable politicians who go to the conventions where those shirts are sold and walk by them without even the faintest remark?

Who are the people who own the companies who own the radio stations? Who are the people who sell the ads to companies that finance the rhetoric with impotence treatments and gold-bug scams? Who are the boards of directors? Who are the respectable people?

They do it because they can make a buck and nobody ever wonders why. They do it because they can gain and maintain political power, while daintily calling for "civility" and telling us that we are good people who don't respond to tactics like this. This doesn't work? Try gun control. It has disappeared as an issue. Some dolt in Detroit tries to ignite his underpants and, as a result, we all consent to being groped and fluoroscoped by some underpaid TSA agent with a YouTube account back home.

But shoot a Congressman — hell, kill a federal judge — and the discussion of why maniacs can arm themselves dies almost a'borning.

Do you think this president can even feint in that direction? The ground's already been prepared to make even a tepid attempt as controlling lethal weaponry the act of a Kenyan Nazi usurper with the black helicopters at his disposal.

They do it because it works.

There is no great lesson to be learned from what happened in Tucson, because we won't learn the greatest one — to stop being such suckers, to cease being a nation of easy marks, to acknowledge the darkness in ourselves and in our country and to recognize it so well that we are able to resist the attempts to bring it out of us so someone can get elected or turn a buck on it.

We must pity the deranged, and we must goddamn all gentlemen.

Read more here. Suzan ____________

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