Saturday, September 27, 2014

Wolves in Sheep's Clothing

The N.Y. Times reported that FBI Director James B. Comey is moaning and whining about Apple's new iPhone privacy technology which will put encryption in the hands of the user and thus leave Apple Inc.,  empty and powerless to comply with any government befehl to hand over data. 

Mr. Comey said, “What concerns me about this is companies marketing something expressly to allow people to hold themselves beyond the law.”  He cited kidnapping cases, in which exploiting the contents of a seized phone could lead to finding a victim, and predicted there would be moments when parents would come to him “with tears in their eyes, look at me and say, ‘What do you mean you can’t’

Wasn't there some of story that said:  Beware the wolf in sheep's clothing?

From Obama to Comey to the detective on a case the plaintive and whining cry rises up: the babies!  the virgins!  the widows!   We need more tools and more power to fight "those who would blow up the world"  ... (and sell dope on a street corner)!

And people fall for it over and over again, just as they fell for tales of Infidel outrages in Holy Jerusalem, Germans roasting babies on their bayonets and now "unspeakble beheadings"  (as distinguished one supposes from the  US troops who killed an Afghani detainee after four days of non-stop "pulpifying" -- the coroner's term.)  

The Fourth Amendment is the supreme law of the land.  The only thing illegal here is a government that refuses to abide the Constitution,  a Supreme Court that will do its sophistical best to gut it, and a Congress that is too supine and degenerate to return to our lawful roots.

The definition of a "tyranny" is precisely that --  a government that refuses to abide the law.    The operative presumption of a free and civil society is (1) that all citizens are trustworthy and innocent of wrong doing and (2) that as such they are entitled to privacy in all their personal affairs.   If the government has reason to suspect a deviation from the presumption let it get a warrant based on probable cause.   Period.  

Beware the man crying "danger!"

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Islamic State of Photoshop?

While you can  download execution-clips from Bonnie & Clyde on You Tube, the media has been less than forthcoming with posting videos of ISIS atrocities, which are alleged to be too graphic for sensitive and civilised eyes.   But at least some of the photos appear to us to be faked....

Dear Mr. (Editor of the Guardian UK)

The photograph filenamed "screengrab-showing-militia-009.jpg"  appears to be "photoshopped"

There are two lines of men -- the shooters (L) and the kneeling victims (R).  You will notice:

(1)   the focus between the two lines is not consistent:  the fourth from left shooter is fuzzier than kneeling man in the striped blue shirt (3rd from foremost victim);

(2)   in fact, the two rows are not properly aligned, with the striped blue man angled ambiguously between the 2nd and the 4th shooter

(3)   the height of the kneeling victims is also off;  the heels of the foremost victim  align vertically with the knees of the 1st from left shooter

(4)   the edge of the back of the foremost victim seems too sharp.

I am an amateur photographer.   I have (for fun) manipulated all sorts of images, both superimposing objects and taking them out.   My eye immediately recognized that something in this photo was not right.

This is a serious issue.  There is a lot of disinformation or propaganda taking place in connection with ISIS.  The photo could have been composited by ISIS or by some Rumsfeldian outfit.  But whoever did it, it is a fake and creates a false fact. 


Friday, July 4, 2014

She Fattens & Dies

To the N.Y.  Times:

Ms Rosenberg states diabetes “can be prevented most of the time by eating right and exercising. This was not a mystery; lack of knowledge wasn’t the obstacle. The obstacle was getting people to actually make these changes.”

If knowledge isn’t the obstacle, then the problem lies with the will (or lack of it).  So the question then becomes how do we get Americans to stop being lazy, apathetic slobs? 

That does present a conundrum, because by definition apathetic people are not animated by passions or goals.  As Edward Gibbon would say, once people become “enervated” that’s the end of the game.   Sorry America.  To paraphrase Ausonius, “She fattens and dies.” 

Rosenberg's article goes to list a numbing array of interventions and campaigns aimed at getting people to actually make positive life style changes.  These studies and plans seem to me to be beside the point.  The usual grant-in-progress bandaids which avoid fundamentals.  

The top-down solution is to generate an economy that does not push junk food at people and which allows for dinner at mid-day (like most civilized places) instead of two hours before bedtime.
The top-down solution is to generate a culture which does not inculcate the passive “ingestion” of infotainment and advertisements thus cultivating  a couch-potato posture and potato mind mental state.

Lastly, traffic and transportation systems have to be radically revised so as to severely restrict the automobile and force people to walk, skate and bicycle.

Simply put, we have to generate social norms which are antithetical to mental and physical laziness and remove those economic norms which are incompatible with walking and relaxing at the right times in the right way.   But these norms cannot be divorced from the economic fundamentals of which they are but the social manifestation.  To illustrate:  you can't get people to "eat right" and at the same time protect and promote a billion dollar industry based on shoving junk into people's mouths.

Once the structural and economic causes of the problem  are understood,it can also be seen that there will never be a real solution.  The U.S. is what it has become.    Better luck, next cycle. 

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Monday, September 6, 2010

Social Basics

To: New York Times
Re: Obama's New 50 billion Job Stimulus

Whether Hoover/Roosevelt's WPA or Hitler's Arbeitsdeinst, everyone has understood the necessity and utility of public works projects. The defect in the Administration's policy is that it conceives of such programs as temporary, stop-gap measures. They are not; such programs are only the beginning of economic recovery and stability.

A truly social conception flows from the premise that every citizen is directly entitled to a guaranteed standard of living in terms of: education, employment, housing, health-care recreation and retirement.

This is not a question of "welfare" or "minimal scroungables". It is a question of building a society that has as its broad basis (not as its limit) a soci-economic egalitarianism that protects the integrity and develops the potential of the whole person.

National Socialism understood this from the beginning. FDRoosevelt promoted this concept at the very end in his April 1945 speech about an "economic bill of rights"


And of course, economic rights is the social premise of communism and social democracy. Everyone has understood the concpet except for the US ruling caste from and after LBJ. The neo-liberal premise, espoused by all administrations from Reagan to and including Obama, is that if we throw enough goodies at the rich enough of it will miss its mark and actually hit the poor...sometimes, maybe. I seem to recall that Eduardo Porter of this paper's editorial board once wrote an article entitled "Feeding the Rich feeds the Poor."

The time for this kind of thinking has come to an end. It is not necessary to abolish capitalism, but only to regulate so that it becomes the servant of society not its master.


Friday, September 3, 2010

Supposing Truth out of Hysteria

To: Truthout

Re: John Pilger's Article on Propaganda

I'm not sure Bernays was the first to invent propaganda ... after all, Manifest Destiny was a propaganda as much as Cromwell's 'liberation' of Jamaica from the oh so dastardly Spanish.

Behind every 'liberation' there is a bete noire and what is really interesting is to hypothesize that perhaps the bete was blanc.

So returning to Bernay's 'magnum opus' ... suppose the 'dastardly' Germans never sank the Lusitania; suppose the Kaiser was right that it was the French and the Russians who started the Great War; suppose it was the dastardly English who inhumanely sought to starve the German civilian population in submission.

Suppose, Hitler was right that the Allies sought to impoverish Germany with chains of debt and to encircle her with meancing armies while she was prohibited from self defense. Suppose Canada and Mexico lopped off chunks of land from the United States and Canada held a 'corridor' from Montreal to New York City. Suppose as Chamberlain said and John Foster Dulles implied, a 'war party' in the U.S. and Britain in fact were the guilty parties who precipitated the World War.

Most people -- in fact 99 percent of them -- are almost congenitally incapable of asking liberating questions. Most of what people are taught as history is really hysteria -- that is, propaganda and myth which it is taboo to so much as question.

However, once you do start to question, you will never see the world in the same light again.


Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Worshipping One's Golden Ass

To: Truthout
Re: Article on Jewish "Exceptionalism"

In the West, "Exceptionalism" -- also known as stuck up self-righteousness -- is particularly prevalent among Protestants and Jews, the main difference here being that between a sneer and a whine.

The Nazis too were steeped in exceptionalism, and Pope Pius XI's words to them in 1937 are particularly appropriate:

Whoever exalts race, or the people, or the State, or a particular form of State or any other value of the human community— however necessary and honorable their function -- above their standard value and divinizes them to an idolatrous level, distorts and perverts an order of the world planned and created by God and is far from the true faith in God and from the concept of life which that faith upholds.

No one would think of preventing young Germans establishing a true ethnical community in anoble love of freedom and loyalty to their country [But] None but superficial minds could stumble into concepts of a national God and of a national religion, or attempt to lock within the frontiers of a single people, within the narrow limits of a single race, God, the Creator of the universe, King and Legislator of all nations before whose immensity they are "as a drop of a bucket" (Isaiah XI, 15).

In so saying, Pius went to the heart of the matter: i.e. that exceptionalism which by extalting self (or tribal self) goes beyond a happy pride and ends up debasing and destroying others.

Whether this exceptionalism is Nazi, Protestant, Jewish, or German, Anglo-American or Israeli, it is all cut from the same cloth and is equally obnoxious to the rest of us.

One of the true virtues of Catholicism is the belief in Original Sin, which counterbalances individual and tribal ego with sentiments (in Latin) such as "Who am I, when the Just are mercy needing?"