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Archive for the ‘Politics’ Category

Moyers and Company

Posted by Mike on February 9, 2012


I’d like to recommend readers of either side of the political spectrum to check out the Moyers & Company episode “How do Conservatives and Liberals see the World?” It’s my opinion that the politics of the country are as polarized as they’ve ever been and I’m completely weary of the propaganda coming from either side of the spectrum and am always looking to understand things outside of this box and this was about as close to anything like this I’ve seen on television.

In fact this interview Moyers had with psychologist Jonathan Haidt almost seemed like he was talking to a hermeticist. I can’t remember specific quotes too well, but at one point Haidt made the point that truth can’t be reached through reason, which is one of those statements that ought to have many skeptics in a major uproar, but that hermeticists understand implicitly.

I’m not sure that you could put the conservative party and liberal party on either side of the tree of life, but I do think conservative tendencies tend to be severe and liberal tendencies tend to be merciful. But of course the lesson of this is that of the middle pillar and of balance. I don’t think I’ve ever met a hermeticist that’s a political conservative but I’m not sure any of them quite qualify as a Maddow/Olbermann-esque liberal either. I’m at the point where most of this stuff reeks of obvious propoganda and I don’t like it from either side. Hermeticists break away from groupthink not embrace it.

Haidt brought up Manichaeanism which I tend to find one of the biggest issues because this is really the state of Christian fundamentalism today. If you’re not walking the party line (of good) then the only other choice is that you’re evil. Haidt made the point that this is a lot of what drives Republicanism today and it’s often what I experience with fundamentalist republicans who can’t at all accept someone outside their box as being good, because if they don’t believe in Jesus, the flag and apple pie then they must believe in communes and world states and the rise of the Antichrist.

But I think the main point Haidt makes is that liberals generally try to seek new experiences while conservatives tend to stick to what they already know. I like that Haidt didn’t attach value judgements to these things though, that is he wasn’t trying to say this makes liberals superior to conservatives, only that they’re different ways of viewing things. How he compared the tea party’s use of the flag (untouched and sacralized) to Occupy Wall Street’s use of the flag (usually altered in some fashion as liberals don’t sacralize the flag) was particularly fascinating.

Haidt hopes to be instrumental in translating the language of one viewpoint to the other and I think it’s an honorable if not very realistic mission entirely due to the Manichaenism he brought up earlier. With Ivy league schools cast as elitists due to such Manichaenism (another good example is the way everything becomes the “liberal media”), it’s hard to imagine conservatives taking him seriously. Even though he says the results of the study actually moved him in a more conservative direction.


Posted in Esoteric, Politics, Religion | Leave a Comment »

Charles L. Grant – The Sound of Midnight; Lucius Shepard – “Shades,” “Life of Buddha,” “The Scalehunter’s Beautiful Daughter,” “Jack’s Decline,” “Nomans Land,” “A Wooden Tiger,” “The Way It Sometimes Happens,” “The Ends of the Earth,” “Carlos Manson Lives;” Fritz Leiber “Do You Know Dave Wenzel?;” “One Station of the Way;” stories from Gardner Dozois ed. – The Year’s Best Science Fiction Vol. 1

Posted by Mike on January 26, 2010

Been too busy to do a lot of posting of late, particularly because my home computer went down for about three weeks this month thanks to the latest rootkit du jour. It meant a restoration of my computer which hasn’t gone totally smoothly, the good part is I managed to save all of my old data except possibly old e-mails. Things are working OK now, but my old Feurio CD burner program doesn’t work on the new machine, so I’m hoping to get Nero 9 up and running soon. Other than that I think everything’s working fairly well again.

The best part about not having a computer, perhaps, is not seeing news as much, as when I returned to learning about our current corporatocracy, I learned of the devastating Supreme Court decision to make corporations human beings, which may have been one of the worst events in politics to have happened in years. Whether you vote Republican major or Republican minor (aka Democrats) today, the only truisms seem to be that the banks and major corporations are always the winners. But enough on this, there’s really nothing all that new about the rich and powerful getting their way, King Richard or CEO Richard.

But of course another good thing about not having a computer is more reading time. So onto trying to catch up with some fiction reviews. Read the rest of this entry »

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I’m all for free speech but…

Posted by Mike on January 14, 2010

This just makes me want to be sick. There’s really just no comments to be made about this except if this is the kind of fruit the Christian Broadcasting Network is bearing, well you can tell what kind of tree it is. Once again fundamentalism rears its ugly, vicious, thoughtless head.

Posted in Politics, Religion | Leave a Comment »

Another example of Rovian nonsense

Posted by Mike on April 16, 2009

The latest editorial by Karl Rove in the Wall Street Journal is one of the better examples of just how inconsistent, misleading and insidious his writing is. I don’t want to reprint the article here, but I do want to address what I feel are the reasons why this article demonstrates how vague language can be used to completely mislead and reframe reality to the sheepherding of a movement.

Rove claims the Tea Party movement is significant, which we can take as his thesis sentence in the first paragraph, so I won’t yet wonder why we have to take his word for it, especially when it’s difficult to estimate the attendance of these events. The first misleading statement:

“Now Americans are reacting to runaway government spending that they were not told about before last year’s election, and which Americans are growing to resent.”

First of all, this statement confuses a general policy statement given during the campaign with the specifics and execution of that policy statement in office. It assumes there is a level at which there is some sort of agreement on what “runaway” spending is, while ignoring the fact that Rove was part of an administration that turned a surplus into a massive deficit. To be in full support of the massive government spending of the last 8 years while decrying it during the first few months is partisanship and no more. Were “Americans” told about the “runaway government spending” that would occur under the Bush administration? Where was the resentment over this? All I see is a concerted effort to whitewash and ignore these figures and to sidestep the fact that the supposed party against government spending supported the president with the highest amount of spending in decades.

And let’s talk about “Americans.” This is part of the constant effort of the right to make it look like the country is in lockstep with the Fox News and Rush Limbaugh-led fringe, despite the fact that the Obama administration approval numbers in just about every poll taken since the election have been in the 60 percentile range. By using this method of defining Americans in this way, you could just as well say Americans are criminals, or Americans are Christians, or Americans are polygamists or Americans are Scientologists. It’s a misleading use of the language because its purpose is to make it seem that the majority of Americans feel the way the author does, which is contradicted, again, by the poll numbers.

“Derided by elitists as phony, the tea-party movement is spontaneous, decentralized, frequently amateurish and sometimes shrill.”

What this sentence does is define beforehand that those who feel the tea-party movement is spontaneous, decentralized, frequently amateurish and sometimes shrill are elitists. It’s a method of demeaning and devaluing those who hold a negative opinion of these tea parties without at all taking into account any arguments for why the tea party may or may not be any of these things. It says, if you have a contrary opinion to this viewpoint you’re an elitist. It predefines a value without debating why it may be true. That is, if you’re not Christian, you’re not truly American, if you agree that the tax on the wealthy should be 39% rather than 36% than you’re quite clearly socialist, if you disagree with any of these things you’re not a patriot, the list goes on. These things might fly with those on the right but anyone with any sense is going to ask you to connect the dots. Exactly why is someone elitist for finding the tea parties any of those qualities? Rove doesn’t say and his readers and followers don’t question this. After all Fox News has been repeating these points over and over to the point where they become tenets of doctrine rather than hypotheses that must be proven with facts.

“The many tax and fee increases enacted or under consideration is angering voters.”

Sloppy. The many tax and fee increases enacted or under consideration are angering some voters. While Rove’s statement in itself isn’t necessarily incorrect, it presupposes that Rove is speaking for some sort of majority when polls continue to indicate that he’s really speaking of a minority, the same minority whose candidate lost in November.

“So far, Mr. Obama has decided to let the Bush tax cuts expire in 2011 and avoid forcing Democrats to take a tough vote. But the tea parties reveal how hard it will be for the president to hide the Democrats’ tax-and-spend tendencies from voters.”

This presupposes the idea that Democrats are actually trying to hide something. How exactly did the Democrats hide spending increases (notice that the word investment never pops up when the right talks spending) in a stimulus bill whose language is actually public? I remember right after the bill passed going through a list of what money was going to what program. Rove writes, with backdoor language, that Democrats are aiming for backdoor taxing and spending, all of which is in clear view. It’s the continual rewriting of the economic debate to continually declare as a tenet of doctrine that government spending (read: investment) can never have a positive effect on the US economy or capitalism.

Let’s just be honest here. Some economists think spending works, some think it doesn’t. That’s the facts. Aspirin doesn’t make everyone’s headaches go away, pest control doesn’t necessarily always kill every cockroach, and the sky during the day isn’t always cerulean, so how can one say that spending is always bad? We can’t. But again, Rove’s method is to overgeneralize, to make it seem to his audience that there’s a majority viewpoint in what he says, when little could be farther from the truth. Instead a conspiracy must be at foot, as the secret agenda of quickly turning the country into some sort of parody of communism, fascism, Naziism or whatever the latest fearmongering tactic of the Limbaughs and Becks of the day is now being revealed to you. It’s all meant to evoke the Antichrist, the flag of the USSR, and all those things the right fear. Anything anti-doctrine is the harbinger of doom.

“Mr. Obama plans to boost federal spending 25% while nearly tripling the national debt over 10 years. Americans know that this kind of spending will have economic consequences, including new taxes being imposed by the new progressives.”

Obama must have superpowers. In 3 months he’s already ensured that he’ll be continuing to damage the economy for two years after he could possibly even be in office. To me this is similar to evangelical reasoning which says that when good things happen to you it’s the blessing of God, but when bad things happen to you it’s because you’re a sinner. When the economy is bad it’s definitely the fault of a democract, but when it’s good, it’s because of something Reagan originally did or the delayed effects of a Bush policy. After all we don’t need to wait and see if Obama’s policies work because we’ve already predefined them as socialist or fascist which means even if they do work it’s preordained to be “unAmerican.” And I don’t even have to go into the plans of Obama to actually cut the deficit by a certain point.

“It hasn’t gotten a ton of attention, but people are fed up with the complexity of their tax code and ready to do something about it.”

Didn’t Obama actually mention the same thing, like YESTERDAY? Could Rove even give him the credit of saying such a thing?

“The 2009 Tax Foundation survey…”

Read: surveys that support a viewpoint I hold are fair game, but those, like the ones that show great support for the Obama administration, can just be duly ignored. That’s the issue with polls though, you can pretty much pick and choose not only the polls you want to use but the data within the polls. It can be true for instance that in a poll for what taxes people want are going to show a low number at the same time that a poll showing the approval of a president who wants to raise taxes and spend money can be high. One does not predispose the other. 

“But to tap into that constituency Republicans will have to link lower taxes to money in voters’ pockets, and economic growth and jobs. They must explain why the GOP approach will lead to greater prosperity. Such arguments are not self-executing. They require leaders to make them, time and again, as Reagan once did.”

More importantly than linking an idea with approach is linking an approach with reality. A 3% tax cut for the wealthy did not trickle down and lead to  greater prosperity for the middle and lower classes over the last eight years. Surely there were other factors involved but that’s just the problem with stating economic ideas as doctrine. A trickle down theory can not operate outside of a box, it has to operate in tandem with a multitude of factors that all influence each other. This, it would seem, would lead to the idea that sometimes different approaches work and sometimes they don’t. The problem is that some of these different approaches are now being demonized by the right as “the other.” That is, if your approach adjusts a tax bracket, we hop all the way along the spectrum to the extreme side and start calling people names like “socialist” and “fascist.” If moving the tax bracket three percent during the Clinton years did not lead to the New Socialist Republic of the United States then, why would it do so now? Why isn’t the 36% tax bracked for the wealthy ALREADY socialist?

My memory isn’t that short. Clinton left with a surplus. Bush with a deficit. That only got there from spending. For a man who was literally part of this spending to be trying to hawk this bullshit about spending being a bad thing is truly hypocrisy of the highest order. That he’s still demeaning the English language and bending the facts on WSJ, Fox News and elsewhere while Bush has virtually been exiled by those who want to quickly forget who got us into this mess is a blight on the thinking human being who would add this man to the list of true believers, idealists and conmen of the past who think that might means right and that a statement of doctrine is somehow magically a fact.

“But political movements are often a reaction against aggressive overreach by those in power. “

These tea parties are somehow significant, but the election of Obama on the heels of an administration who practically defined “aggressive overreach by those in power?” is what, a footnote?

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Mike’s New Furlough Schedule

Posted by Mike on February 4, 2009

In the every cloud has a silver lining category:

Page 9 of this document

Now, I don’t think this is likely to last, as our Union is negotiating to remove one furlough day from the table and my guess is that they’ll succeed (hopefully after the Presidents’s holidays, one of which may also be delayed). But there’s something kind of comforting about working 4 day weeks for a year or so, except that it will be mighty hard to go back to 5s when it’s all over. But they’ve saved my 9/8/80 which I’m mighty pleased about. I needed one to go my way.

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Furloughs for the State of California

Posted by Mike on January 29, 2009

The final ruling came down today, giving the Governor the authority to issue a two day furlough for state employees, and that includes me. It’s bizarre for me in particular as I’m on what’s called a 9/8/80 schedule, I work 9 hour days and get every other Friday off. And it just so happens that the first day of the pay period (tomorrow) is my Friday off. So I’m in the position of not knowing whether I’m coming into work tomorrow. It’s funny how this would be my first thought, rather than a 10% pay cut. And I have a friend in town and was planning on seeing the nephews tomorrow.

I read a great deal of news every day, so since the economy went south I read about 4 or 5 companies a day or more slashing 1000s of jobs.  I have a brother who just started state service (special fund fortunately) and several coemployees that are all lower (and some much lower) in seniority than I am. So I can’t cavalierly get angry at these furloughs in terms of the personal hit, after all the whole country is badly off and it was just my turn so to speak. Right now I’m actually looking at buying a new HDTV on the backs of two years of tax refunds, so I can’t say at all that I’m badly off nor that I won’t survive 17 months with a 10% wage cut. I’d much rather my brother can support his family furloughed than he lose his job altogether, and feel the same way about my coworkers. After all I’m in that lucky and rare position of liking everyone I work with, we all get along and noone is a slacker.

However, the numbers don’t really add up. We work across from the State Capitol, which is teeming with restaurants. Not a day goes by that the nearby places aren’t totally slammed by noon and two Fridays off will significantly hurt the downtown economy here. Word has it that the judge who OK’d the furloughs is a Schwarzenegger appointee, so no surprise there. And there’s the facts that our union, in the last ten years has only managed to get us the most meager of cost of living increases, all of which were wiped out with this court order.

Also, the original executive order for furloughs also called for layoffs, so Schwarznegger’s threat yesterday that layoffs would be coming if the union doesn’t accept furloughs strikes me as typically disingenuous. And we’re talking 20% as a possibility here, so even with furloughs jobs will be in jeopardy. On the other hand, despite that I’m in no way a Republican or Schwarnegger supporter (or previous voter), it also seems over the top to blame it entirely on his mismanagement, despite the robotic chorus from the Republican congress whose no new taxes creed speaks of never ending idealogy. But from my perspective the poor state of the California economy certainly predates the recent economic crash, balancing the budget has been a struggle nearly every year (or two years), with a threat to state workers at the tail end of every crisis.

Overall, I’m thankful I’ve still got a job. And hope that I’m still off tomorrow at the very least and that they find a way to adjust 9/8/80 schedules for the furlough. It might be nice working 8 hour days again. Ya know the sorts of thoughts that go through your head when trying to keep some optimism on a sinking ship…

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Mike’s Vacation Report

Posted by Mike on January 5, 2009

Had a very lazy last couple of weeks, besides family stuff, which included watching my nephews for the first time on my own. Much nerdery after the break: Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Music, Politics, Video Games | Leave a Comment »


Posted by Mike on November 5, 2008

Song of the day: Amnesty “Mister President”

I’m finding it really hard to really capture how I’m feeling about Barack Obama’s win last night. I think there was a part of me somewhere that didn’t believe it could happen, no matter what all the polls were saying, that after eight years of the worst administration in my lifetime, corruption and greed was something we were going to have to accept and live with. That the status quo of old school politicians who carried forward the prejudices and biases of the past would remain entrenched. This is a victory for the “other,” not only everyone outside the normal demographic that has always been in the White House, but for those of us who recognized the world is broken and feel that the status quo is largely responsible for it. For those of us who feel that not only was there a huge difference between conservative and liberal but who feel there’s a huge difference between the conservative of today and the conservative of the Reagan area and earlier. Who feel that there is a huge difference between the increasingly fringe Evangelical movement and the Christian mainstream. Who feel that the Palin segment of the modern Republican party have adopted such a Manichean view of the world that everyone who doesn’t mark in lockstep is somehow the Shadow. This is the moment where those of us who have found science abased, spirituality diminished and humanity divided are finally seeing the possibility of a true paradigm change, where unity is a real, if temporary possibility.

And as such feelings go, it’s going to take me a while to believe it’s happening. I’ve been following this election by the footnote since Barack Obama’s sophistication, intelligence, unflappability and poise convinced me that for the first time in my entire life, I wasn’t just voting for the lesser of two evils, but for someone who is actually my voice. Someone who was clearly introspective and self-critical, who realized that healing is not accomplished by the type of divisiveness our country has seen. Who doesn’t pander to the extremes of either party, a man who would calmly try to explain to Bill O’Reilly his vision of the future over constant interruptions, but would also try to temper Rachel Maddow’s implication that Obama’s campaign is an actual condemnation of conservatism. Over and over, I pinched my arm until I bruised, a part of me still not convinced this was actually happening.

I’m not sure when I knew it was over. Part of me was convinced very early on it was a done deal, especially after Hilary Clinton was ousted in the primaries. It had all the hallmarks of history in the making. I was even more convinced it was over when McCain picked Sarah Palin, a move I saw as shoring up the base rather than aiming for the moderates who decide these things. If it wasn’t for the close elections in 2000 and 2004, one or both that always looked shifty, and the constant worries over election fraud, one might have looked at what were rather obvious poll numbers. I kept reminding myself about the dangers and pitfalls of conspiracy theories, most of which never pan out. Last night they had no chance.

Pennsylvania was the first huge moment. After that only one big state was needed and when Ohio went blue, it was virtually over. The next hour was like a dream. I was watching MS-NBC talking to friend and it all seemed to happen in slow motion. Chris Matthews started giving a big speech about the implications of the Obama win and like a climax, the entire west coast lit up blue. As a California voter talking to an Oregon voter on the phone, this was a hell of a moment, it was as if our states clinched the win. And it felt like a huge weight disappeared, like 1000 banishing rituals ending all at once.

Obviously a moment that feels like the grand finale to the best movie of all time is actually only the beginning. But for the moment, the sun is shining.

An image from The Classical Golden Dawn Tarot after the break: Read the rest of this entry »

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The Rising Sun

Posted by Mike on November 4, 2008

I haven’t seen much discussion on the Obama Biden emblem. It’s an insignia that captures one of the most profound and significant symbols of the ages, that of the rising sun. It’s the very basic simple of hope, a new day will rise. This goes all the way back to the Egyptians who originally did not have the certainty modern man does about the sun coming up again the next day.

It’s also a significant symbol for many esoteric groups, most famously the Golden Dawn (this book shows one example of how it’s used). In the Golden Dawn, this symbol encapsulates quite a bit more than the hope for a new day, in particular it symbolizes an important spiritual concept that has a far reaching effect. If you notice in the symbol, the rising sun is in the center of the Star of David. In the Golden Dawn this star is the combination of the downward pointing triangle that is the blue elemental symbol of water and the red upward pointing triangle that is the elemental symbol of fire. In the form of the Star (or hexagram if you will) it is the fusion and the reconciliation of opposites. In the kabbalah this is Tiphareth, whose planetary association, naturally, is the Sun. Tiphareth is also the sixth sephirah, corresponding nicely with the hexagram. It not only balances the pillars of mercy and severity, but also the divine and earthbound parts of the tree.

Strangely enough this dovetails quite nicely with Barack Obama. Obama’s an August 4th Leo, a sign that the Sun rules. It’s probably worth noting here that Bill Clinton was also a Leo democrat. Leos are known for radiant charisma and leadership abilities, two aspects I can even imagine most of Obama’s detractors are likely to at least grudgingly admit. Having dated an August 4th Leo before, Obama’s chameleon-like way of being able to relate to just about any situation and to be empathetic with nearly everyone he comes into contact with is very familiar to me. The constant refrains of one America, one party, crossing party lines, transformation, “change we need” and all of this imagery is definitively Tiphareth, all of these things smaller ripples and echoes of that greater truth the rising sun represents.

Whether this has all come together in the way chains of unexplained synchroncity tend to or if there was someone in the mix who knows these symbols beyond the Jungian level, I’m sure I’ll never know. After all this isn’t Harry Potter. But the way they’re all lining up speaks of a powerful influence at play here, at the very least there’s an interesting subconscious response at work here.

Posted in Esoteric, Politics | 1 Comment »

Huff Post comeback of the month

Posted by Mike on October 31, 2008

First read this. And then this. Please do not eat or drink while reading either, for totally different reasons.

Posted in Politics | 2 Comments »