« 'Ich bin ein Kook' | Main | Phoenix 101: San Diego »

June 01, 2012


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

Please RC! Don't you know the LDS hero will ride down from the heavens on a white horse and save us all (or just the church members, not sure which). Get ready for your postmortem baptism.

A Romney presidency may be a prelude to disaster or the real thing. A prelude, I write, because the hard right may see him simply as a place holder until they can use the Permanent Republican Majority to seat a President X who will do all their bidding.
I see nothing in Romney's character to indicate that he wouldn't do all of their bidding.

I still stand by my prognostication that Obama's their man, with Mitt as a failsafe backup just in case Barack shoots himself in the foot before November.

(I need not, I hope, point out here 'round these parts the fallacy of the "Democrats vs. Republicans" theatre in today's politics.)

A deeply sad and troubling post, Jon. Because it is true.

The goat herders in Afghanistan and the bunker nazi's in Idaho will survive. They have water, meat and milk.

Sorry boys, Barack is YOUR boy. You wanted him, you got him.

John Birch and Ayn Rand are getting married.
Joe McCarthy is the bridesmaid

Does that make W and the current obstructionist GOP in Congress your boys, Terry?

Has their really been a choice since IKE?

try this for Collapse. (PS I have the DVD if U all would like to borrow such)

Stock up on weed for the coming apocalypse.
Do U use Roundup?
Weed or no weed the weed killer is worse than the weed.


It's a slow hot day here in St. Smith land

"We learn from history that we do not learn from history"
-- Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel

Mr. Talton wrote:

"I keep getting emails from my newspaper column readers telling me how the eurozone crisis is all about 'the failure of socialism'. When I try to explain the real reasons, I get back another two pages of Heritage Foundation talking points."

These individuals seldom work from facts to create theories: instead, they begin with theories (if you can call an ignorant obsession with a subject they know nothing about a "theory") and then torture the facts upon the procrustean bed of their preconceptions until they confess their crimes. For them, everything points in the same direction. Every economic problem must be blamed on the loose nail of "socialism", and the solution to every problem is the hammer of "free markets".

For many, it's more akin to a sports rivalry than an intellectual pursuit of truth. Our team must win, and knee-jerk reaction is the means by which team loyalty is demonstrated. No matter how many batting histories or other statistics you provide, controversy always devolves to "Yankees suck!"

Talk radio revs them up, but seldom allows them to personally talk back, so trashing your columns is cathartic. Additionally, for many of these individuals, like sports fanatics, their personal image is heavily invested in their team. Challenging their worldview is a personal affront which must be beaten back.

Finally, the range of political discourse in most of the nation's mass media outlets is so narrow, that anything outside this range shocks and frightens readers suckled on the pap of conservatism. After reading your views on the role of "austerity" in Europe's current troubles -- despite the fact that such views which are increasingly mainstream -- and striking out at you reflexively, they likely totter off to check under the bed for Communists.

I'll post an informative illustration of these principles shortly.

A pair of contrasting My Turn columns in the Phoenix Republic (the community insert appearing in certain issues of the Arizona Republic) demonstrates the point admirably.

On May 16th, a column by Roy Miller appeared. Miller is described as a longtime Phoenix resident and businessman, and as co-founder and Treasurer of the Arizona Economic Forum. Among other pursuits, Mr. Miller spends his time writing letters attempting to convince legislators and other movers and shakers on the need for immigration reform -- but from an exploiter's viewpoint rather than a nativist's.

Miller's main argument is that America, while enjoying great wealth and economic opportunity, offers "excessively generous welfare payments" that "sap the ambition of many Americans". Simultaneously, he argues that on the Mexican side of the border, "we find a people impoverished by generations of socialistic, anti-free market" government welfare.

Apparently then, north of the Rio Grande, "socialism" creates wealth and opportunity while making people lazy; whereas South of the Rio Grande, it creates a strong work ethic (summer landscaping and construction labor, anyone?) but bankrupts the people of Mexico. Despite the logical contradiction, there is a common thread: "socialism" is bad.

Miller's (Randian) "ideal solution" is to simultaneously abolish welfare and open the borders. Failing this, he's for expanding temporary work permits. There's a fly in the ointment, but Miller's on top of it: "But, what if those with temporary work permits don't go back to Mexico when the permit expires?" he asks, before providing the solution:

"This risk can be minimized by ensuring that the permits are easy to obtain and renewable. If it's available for the asking and can be renewed by a simple showing of current employment, there would be little reason for the holder of a work permit to break the law."

Voila! Of course, there would be little reason to return, either.

On June 1st, W.H. Baker responded with his own My Turn column. Baker is a retired public school teacher who lived in Mexico for 28 years (1984-2012). Before that, Baker and his wife first visited Mexico in 1958, then starting in 1971 began visiting more and more regularly, and finally "every week for years" until they bought their house. So, he has a love affair with the country and extensive personal experience.

Baker's eloquent testimony objected not to Miller's work-permit proposals, but to his characterization of Mexico's government as socialistic. "Absolutely false, and quite the opposite."

Unfortunately, the text is not available online (a shame, because it should be widely read) but I'll provide some telling excerpts:

"Mexico does not have a suitable social-security program. Otherwise we would not see 70 and 80 year old women and men begging on the streets, sometimes so tired they fall asleep on their "begging cups" in their hands.

"Mexico does not have a (socialistic) medical program for poor people. Otherwise we would not see people of all ages who grow up and live with physical deformities and abnormalities such as cleft palates, deformed feet, legs, arms, etc., that were not medically taken care of but that would have been with socialized medical care.

"Mexico does not have a food-stamp or socialized government program to feed hungry people. Otherwise, we would not see people, from toddlers to 80 year olds, with their hands out saying "money for tacos, money for tacos". It's hard to refuse small tots barely able to walk when they do that.

"Mexico does not have strong unions that give workers living wages and benefits so they can live a decent life, common in socialized governments.

"Mexico has a strong, no-holds-barred, winner-take-all and the rest be damned entrepreneurial system. The richest person in the world, Carlos Slim, is Mexican and made his money the old-fashioned, hard-nosed capitalist way.

"Mexico and its people have been gifted in a great many ways, but it is a hard-scrabble life for those not lucky or talented enough to be able to succeed in Mexico's every man for himself society. Argue for or against socialism as you will, but Mexico does not have a socialist society."

Will Miller modify his mythology, in the face of extensive, first-person observation of fact? I doubt it. A remarkably similar letter by him was published in the Phoenix Business Journal in 2005, though the "Mexico is poor because it's socialist" part is a new wrinkle. This speaks to the issue of incorrigibility among conservative ideologues. Essentially, Miller has been mailing the same letter for years, and will continue to do so until he either gets what he wants or falls over dead.

cal, thanks for that Trunews link - downloading now and looking forward to listening. (I love my leopard-skin 'n' tin-foil hat.)

(What DVD are you referring to?)

Oh - you didn't tell me it was a *comedy*...

I have the dvd Collapse about Michael Rupperts theories

Reference Mexico, George Freidman in his book the Next 100 years sees Mexico as a major international player.
Carlos Slim is a Mexican citizen of Lebanese orgin and an interesting study particularly in his entrance into the communication (read telephone) buisness.

Ah - I've got that Ruppert documentary on my hard drive. Definitely worth watching!

Neither here not there perhaps, but the Republic's latest newsroom reorganization has reportedly brought some much-needed professionalism to howthe editorial board functions. We are reminded that this group endorsed Brewer and Pearce, so something was badly wrong. Maybe a turn in the right direction? They kept MacEachern, who must have a scrapbook. But maybe the rest of the crew will be given pause for thought.

The US
All aboard the Rohr Turboliner
for a final ride into oblivion

At one time, the Republic offered "conservative" columnists in Robb and MacEachern, and a "liberal," be it Ricardo Pimentel or me. That went away in the newsroom reorganization of 2007. Now the only in-house voices parrot right-wing talking points. Linda Valdez is a nice person, but doesn't have a regular column and doesn't really do ideological battle. So nothing will change.

The point of most Gannett editorials is to state either the obvious or the untrue, blandly and inoffensively. Gene Pulliam is spinning in his grave. Also, never forget that the company wants the deregulation that allows it to control both the biggest newspaper and a TV station in a market; that means not offending the right wing.

Speaking of interesting reads:

A strategy of sabotage, blockade, and what is called “the human strike” is proposed in order to weaken still further our doomed civilization. As the Tiqqun group write in a 1999 text called “Oh Good, the War!”: “Abandon ship. Not because it’s sinking, but to make it sink.” Or again: “When a civilization is ruined, one declares it bankrupt. One does not tidy up in a home falling off a cliff.” An opposition between the city and the country is constantly reiterated, and it is clear that the construction of zones of opacity is better suited to rural life than the policed space of surveillance of the modern metropolis. The city is much better suited to what we might call “designer resistance,” where people wear Ramones T-shirts and sit in coffee shops saying “capitalism sucks,” before going back to their jobs as graphic designers.

Mystical Anarchism

(Yes, it's worth wading through some of the initial elitist art-house speak to get to the meat of the article.)

Completely Off Topic: The fine folks at the Sonoran Alliance believe Candy Andy was railroaded. Sorry for this interruption but it is truly entertaining:


"Leadership is worse, at least among American politicians. Hardly any will even tell us the truth about our actual circumstances."

Jimmy Carter spoke truth. Recall what that got him?

Here are some questions for you: What happens when global warming kicks into high gear? What happens when serious decisions have to made to save or abandon cities, forests, crop lands, fresh water? What happens when vast numbers of climate refugees go on the march?

Do you think our sclerotic "democracy" can make the necessary decisions in the necessary blink of time? The answer is in the near past and the blooming present: Has our sclerotic "democracy" shown it's ability to ameliorate global warming one iota of one sou? And if our democracy can't even acknowledge a problem as it steamrolls towards us, what chance has it of fixing it once it arrives?

American Democracy is a failure. It is can't-do, won't-do, no-account, poor white trash of a thing. Empty slogans for a flagging population. It's cooked. An "exceptional" global embarrassment. A place where a Kenyan socialist gets blamed for "not" creating jobs that capitalism itself has failed to create!! Double exclamation. What can you say to that? How about: Goo-goo gah-gah...

So the real question is: What will take its place?

The answer "a right-wing dictatorship" is also evidenced in the near past and the blooming future.

Consider the batrachian Ken Bennet in Az threatening to take Obama off the ballot! WTF? I can't vote for a sitting president because 1000 teabaggers belive in UFOs and Big Foot? And consider this opening AARP lede:

"We're holding an election in spite of ourselves. The League of Women Voters has shut down its voter registration efforts in Florida, and Souls to the Polls, a fleet of buses that has transported Floridians from churches to polling places since 2004, is grounded. That's because 12 years after its hanging-chad fiasco, Florida has decided to tighten voter access and threaten, with stiff fines and possible jail, groups that help voters register."
This is the beginning salvo of a right-wing dictatorship that is setting the stage for its own delivery. And soon as things "heat up" you won't be able to stop it. You can't stop it now. There is no opposition. And when there is no opposition there is no Hegelian synthesis. It's one-way baby: Their way or the highway.


Mr. Talton wrote:

"There are facts, and then there are the "facts" of the vast right-wing echo chamber. Nevermind the rigorous and nuanced and necessary arguments over what they mean (What if Britain would have stayed out of World War I?)."

Intriguing allusion. Can you elucidate?

Niall Ferguson has raised this provocative argument, including in his book, "The Pity of War."

soleri is missing in action but we have koreyel up an running hard.

"...torture the facts upon the procrustean bed of their preconceptions until they confess their crimes."

A work of art Emil!

"...torture the facts upon the procrustean bed of their preconceptions until they confess their crimes."

A work of art Emil!

OK, but for this retard can U interpret?

cal Lash,--

Consider this as evidence of a lack of Hegelian opposition: why did the The League of Women Voters and Souls to the Polls allow themselves to be shut down?

That's institutional cowardice.

So you get thrown in jail?!? Good. That's what you want: "I went to jail for helping people to vote in America." Oh the unholy sin of it...

Instead they let the future Nazis shut'em down. I think you will agree with me, this does not bode well for when things really heat up...

koreyel, thanks, I agree.

I looked into Niall Ferguson a bit. Since the examination was superficial, I don't have any comment on his general thesis. That said, his claim (made in The Pity of War among other places) that pre-WW I Germany was the most anti-militarist state in Europe seemed odd, and brought to mind Jerome K. Jerome's travelogue, Three Men on the Bummel. It's about a bicycle tour taken by Jerome and a few of his friends in Germany (among other places) in 1898. Though humorous, some of the observations are an accurate characterization of the German ethos in that period. The book was first published in 1900.

Excerpt from Chapter XIII:

"Every third German gentleman you meet in the street still bears, and will bear to his grave, marks of the twenty to a hundred duels he has fought in his student days. The German children play at the Mensur in the nursery, rehearse it in the gymnasium. The Germans have come to persuade themselves there is no brutality in it—nothing offensive, nothing degrading. Their argument is that it schools the German youth to coolness and courage. If this could be proved, the argument, particularly in a country where every man is a soldier, would be sufficiently one-sided. But is the virtue of the prize-fighter the virtue of the soldier? One doubts it. Nerve and dash are surely of more service in the field than a temperament of unreasoning indifference as to what is happening to one. As a matter of fact, the German student would have to be possessed of much more courage not to fight. He fights not to please himself, but to satisfy a public opinion that is two hundred years behind the times."

Excerpts from Chapter XVI:

". . . In Germany to-day one hears a good deal concerning Socialism, but it is a Socialism that would only be despotism under another name. Individualism makes no appeal to the German voter. He is willing, nay, anxious, to be controlled and regulated in all things. He disputes, not government, but the form of it. The policeman is to him a religion, and, one feels, will always remain so. In England we regard our man in blue as a harmless necessity. By the average citizen he is employed chiefly as a signpost, though in busy quarters of the town he is considered useful for taking old ladies across the road. Beyond feeling thankful to him for these services, I doubt if we take much thought of him. In Germany, on the other hand, he is worshipped as a little god and loved as a guardian angel. To the German child he is a combination of Santa Claus and the Bogie Man. All good things come from him: Spielplätze to play in, furnished with swings and giant-strides, sand heaps to fight around, swimming baths, and fairs. All misbehaviour is punished by him. It is the hope of every well-meaning German boy and girl to please the police. To be smiled at by a policeman makes it conceited. A German child that has been patted on the head by a policeman is not fit to live with; its self-importance is unbearable."

". . . I do not know if it be so, but from what I have observed of the German character I should not be surprised to hear that when a man in Germany is condemned to death he is given a piece of rope, and told to go and hang himself. It would save the State much trouble and expense, and I can see that German criminal taking that piece of rope home with him, reading up carefully the police instructions, and proceeding to carry them out in his own back kitchen.

"The Germans are a good people. On the whole, the best people perhaps in the world; an amiable, unselfish, kindly people. I am positive that the vast majority of them go to Heaven. Indeed, comparing them with the other Christian nations of the earth, one is forced to the conclusion that Heaven will be chiefly of German manufacture. But I cannot understand how they get there. That the soul of any single individual German has sufficient initiative to fly up by itself and knock at St. Peter’s door, I cannot believe. My own opinion is that they are taken there in small companies, and passed in under the charge of a dead policeman.

"Carlyle said of the Prussians, and it is true of the whole German nation, that one of their chief virtues was their power of being drilled. Of the Germans you might say they are a people who will go anywhere, and do anything, they are told. Drill him for the work and send him out to Africa or Asia under charge of somebody in uniform, and he is bound to make an excellent colonist, facing difficulties as he would face the devil himself, if ordered. But it is not easy to conceive of him as a pioneer. Left to run himself, one feels he would soon fade away and die, not from any lack of intelligence, but from sheer want of presumption.

"The German has so long been the soldier of Europe, that the military instinct has entered into his blood. The military virtues he possesses in abundance; but he also suffers from the drawbacks of the military training..."

". . . The curious thing is that the same man, who as an individual is as helpless as a child, becomes, the moment he puts on the uniform, an intelligent being, capable of responsibility and initiative. The German can rule others, and be ruled by others, but he cannot rule himself. The cure would appear to be to train every German for an officer, and then put him under himself. It is certain he would order himself about with discretion and judgment, and see to it that he himself obeyed himself with smartness and precision.

"For the direction of German character into these channels, the schools, of course, are chiefly responsible. Their everlasting teaching is duty. It is a fine ideal for any people; but before buckling to it, one would wish to have a clear understanding as to what this 'duty' is. The German idea of it would appear to be: 'blind obedience to everything in buttons.' It is the antithesis of the Anglo-Saxon scheme; but as both the Anglo-Saxon and the Teuton are prospering, there must be good in both methods. Hitherto, the German has had the blessed fortune to be exceptionally well governed; if this continue, it will go well with him. When his troubles will begin will be when by any chance something goes wrong with the governing machine."


Twenty years earlier in A Tramp Abroad, Mark Twain made similar observations about the German lust for sword duelling and the pride shown in appearing in public with bandaged wounds:

"It is said that the student likes to appear on the street and in other public places in this kind of array, and that this predilection often keeps him out when exposure to rain or sun is a positive danger for him. Newly bandaged students are a very common spectacle in the public gardens of Heidelberg. It is also said that the student is glad to get wounds in the face, because the scars they leave will show so well there; and it is also said that these face wounds are so prized that youths have even been known to pull them apart from time to time and put red wine in them to make them heal badly and leave as ugly a scar as possible. It does not look reasonable, but it is roundly asserted and maintained, nevertheless; I am sure of one thing—scars are plenty enough in Germany, among the young men; and very grim ones they are, too. They crisscross the face in angry red welts, and are permanent and ineffaceable."


Both writers were speaking of the university student Korps, quasi-militaristic clubs which vied with one another for duelling rank. Quite a number of these students later joined the Freikorps (paramilitary units), who supported a right-wing (but non-Nazi) putsch which overthrew the democratic Weimar Republic in 1920. "The Government had no troops whom it could trust to put down the Kapp insurrection, but the working classes of Berlin took the matter into their own hands, and by a universal strike rendered the continuance of the Kapp 'Government' impossible. Kapp saw that the game was up, and on the evening of March 17 he and Luttwitz fled from Berlin in motor-cars. The insurrectionary Government had lasted four days." (see link below)

The freikorps also had a notable role as shock troops supporting the Nazi putsch, and later joining the Nazi SA and other (then paramilitary) groups. "The Freikorps Oberland was a paramilitary, German national and anticommunist volunteer troop, which was considered as forerunner organization of the SA. It came from the anti-Semitic "Thule Society" (Thule-Gesellschaft). The spirit of this organization is seen in a quotation of its founder, Rudolf von Sebottendorf (birth name: Rudolf Glauer): ' ... we are not democrats, we reject democracy. Democracy is Jewish, all revolution of the democracy is Jewish....' "


Very interesting stuff Emil.

I wonder, if a people, or peoples have developed ingrained traits, behaviors,tendencies,beliefs, habits, over a period of thousands of years, how does that work when all the different peoples are thrown together in a modern, ever shrinking world?

In this country, we like to think we have all blended in, however, I think not. In the flash of a moment the differences would surface and there would be hell to pay during the clashes of culture.

Remove law enforcement and look out, it'll be Clan of the Cave Bear time.

AZRebel, I'm currently reading Gordon Parks' memoir "A Choice of Weapons" which I picked up for 25 cents on the bargain rack at Zia. (A very nice trade paperback edition re-released by the Minnesota Historical Society Press in 1986, and quite a bargain.)

On the cover is a quote by the author: "I chose my camera as a weapon against all the things I dislike about America -- poverty, racism, discrimination." The book was originally published in 1965 but dealt with Parks life from the time his mother died just before the Great Depression, through 1944.

There are a lot of books which deal with the subject of racism against Blacks during the period in question. Some would say that's water under the bridge; but though the country has made a quantum leap in race relations since then, I see and hear enough things -- far less overt as a rule though not always -- to know that attitudes which were once pervasive have been passed down through generations (mutating into less virulent forms as a general rule), and have by no means altogether disappeared.

I wasn't sure that I was in the mood for that sort of thing, even if I did consider it salutary not to forget the lessons of history. What really caused me to plunk down my 25 cents was the power and clarity of the writing and, by and large, the sensibilities of the author. It also contains elements of the coming of age novel and the adventure story.

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been posted. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.


Post a comment

Your Information

(Name is required. Email address will not be displayed with the comment.)