Saturday, November 20, 2010

Will The GOP Cause A Trade Boycott?

We discuss the oil wars, global warming, trade problems, and GOP climate change deniers in posts on this blog often.

The republicans won a majority in the House of Representatives in the recent election.

Several of those winners are expected to become committee chairmen who have voiced their belief that global warming is a hoax.

Some of their counterparts in the Senate express the same sentiments in no uncertain terms.

A new story seems to put all of these ideological tugs and pulls into one looming scenario:
Just 10 days ahead of international leaders convening in Cancun, Mexico for the UN climate change conference, British economist Nicholas Stern warned Friday that the U.S. could face a boycott on its products from other countries if it doesn't adequately reduce carbon emissions, AFP reports.

Stern told The Times, "The US will increasingly see the risks of being left behind, and 10 years from now they would have to start worrying about being shut out of markets because their production is dirty."
(Huffington Post). If the GOP climate change deniers gain enough control to cause the USA to snub its nose at the rest of the world, this man is saying it could cause us to lose out in some global trade scenarios, i.e., being boycotted by nations who see global warming & climate change as serious threats.

A Letter From Michael Moore

I received this in an email from Michael Moore:

When someone talks about pushing you off a cliff, it's just human nature to be curious about them. Who are these people, you wonder, and why would they want to do such a thing?

That's what I was thinking when corporate whistleblower Wendell Potter revealed that, when "Sicko" was being released in 2007, the health insurance industry's PR firm, APCO Worldwide, discussed their Plan B: "Pushing Michael Moore off a cliff."

But after looking into it, it turns out it's nothing personal! APCO wants to push everyone off a cliff.

APCO was hatched in 1984 as a subsidiary of the Washington, D.C. law firm Arnold & Porter -- best known for its years of representing the giant tobacco conglomerate Philip Morris. APCO set up fake "grassroots" organizations around the country to do the bidding of Big Tobacco. All of a sudden, "normal, everyday, in-no-way-employed-by-Philip Morris Americans" were popping up everywhere. And it turned out they were outraged -- outraged! -- by exactly the things APCO's clients hated (such as, the government telling tobacco companies what to do). In particular, they were "furious" that regular people had the right to sue big corporations ... you know, like Philip Morris. (For details, see the 2000 report "The CALA Files" (PDF) by my friends and colleagues Carl Deal and Joanne Doroshow.)

Right about now you may be wondering: how many Americans get pushed off a cliff by Big Tobacco every year? The answer is 443,000 Americans die every year due to smoking. That's a big cliff.

With this success under their belts, APCO created "The Advancement of Sound Science Coalition." TASSC, funded partly by Exxon, had a leading role in a planned campaign by the fossil fuel industry to create doubt about global warming. The problem for Big Oil speaking out against global warming, according to the campaign's own leaked documents, was that the public could see the "vested interest" that oil companies had in opposing environmental laws. APCO's job was to help conceal those oil company interests.

And boy, have they ever succeeded. Polls now show that, as the world gets hotter, Americans are getting less and less worried about it.

How big is this particular cliff? According to the World Health Organization, climate change contributes -- right now -- to the deaths of 150,000 people every year. By 2030 it may be double that. And after that ... well, the sky is literally the limit! I don't think it's crazy to say APCO may rack up even bigger numbers here than they have with tobacco.

With this track record, you can see why, when the health insurance industry wanted to come after "Sicko," they went straight to APCO. The "worst case," as their leaked documents say, was that "Sicko evolves into a sustained populist movement." That simply could not be allowed to happen. Something obviously had to be done.

As Wendell Potter explains, APCO ran their standard playbook, setting up something called "Health Care America." Health Care America, according to Potter, "was received by mainstream reporters, including the New York Times, as a legitimate organization when it was nothing but a front group set up by APCO Worldwide. It was not anything approaching what it was reporting to be: a 'grassroots organization.' It was a sham group."

Health Care America showed up online in 2007 (the year "Sicko" was released) and disappeared quickly by early 2008. You can still find their website archived here. As you'll see, their "moderated forum" allowed normal, everyday, in-no-way-employed-by-the-insurance-industry Americans to speak out. For instance, here's something Nicole felt very strongly about:
"Moore shouldn't be allowed to call his film a 'documentary.' It should be called a political commercial. We need to fix our health care system, but we shouldn’t accept a Hollywood moviemaker’s political views as the starting point."
Here's what Wendell Potter revealed about the insurance industry's media strategy:
"As we would do the media training, we would always have someone refer to him as 'Hollywood entertainer' or 'Hollywood moviemaker Michael Moore.' They don't want you to think that it was a documentary that had some truth."
Thanks for your perspective, "Nicole"!

Now, how big was THAT cliff? A pretty good size -- according to a recent study, 45,000 Americans die every year because they don't have health insurance.

And here we are in 2010. A lesser PR firm might be resting on its laurels at this point, content to sit back and watch hundreds of thousands of people continue to be pushed off the various cliffs they've built. But not APCO! Right now they've taken on their biggest challenge yet: leading a giant, multi-million dollar effort to help Wall Street "earn back the trust of the American people."

We may never know the size of this particular cliff. But we can be sure it's gigantic. According to the New York Times, one of the things Wall Street's recession gave us is "the crippling of the government program that provides life-sustaining antiretroviral drugs to Americans with H.I.V. or AIDS who cannot afford them." Internationally, organizations fighting AIDS and other diseases are "hugely afraid" of cutbacks in funding.

Of course, there are the 101 ways recessions kill quietly. For instance, children's hospitals are seeing a sharp 55% rise in the abuse of babies by parents.

And that's just the previous cliff. If APCO and its Wall Street co-conspirators lull us into turning our backs on them again, we can be sure the next cliff -- the next crash -- will be much bigger.

Anyway, this is all just a way for me to say to APCO: No hard feelings! My getting mad at you would be like a chicken who's still happily pecking away getting mad at McDonald's. Compared to the millions you've already turned into McNuggets, you've actually treated me much, much BETTER! Spying on my family, planting smears and lies about me, privately badgering movie critics to give the film a poor review, scaring Americans into believing they'd be committing a near-act of treason were they to go to the theater and see my movie -- hey, ya done good, health insurance companies of America. And, most important, you stopped the nation from getting true universal health care. Good job!

There's only one problem -- I'm not one of those "liberals" you fund in Congress, the ones who fear your power.

I'm me. And that, sadly, is not good for you.

Yours in good health,

Michael Moore

P.S. It seems to me that APCO's discussion of pushing me off a cliff should legitimately be part of their Wikipedia page.

And why not something about their role in Wall Street's new PR offensive? So I'm asking everyone interested to write something up that meets Wikipedia's guidelines and help bring the APCO Worldwide entry up to date. Post it somewhere online and send a tweet about it to @mmflint. I'll award a signed copy of "Sicko" by noon Sunday to the best entry ... and then deputize you to post it on Wikipedia for real and make sure APCO's minions don't take it down. Just be sure afterward not to walk near any cliffs!

P.P.S. The late, great comedian Bill Hicks had some thoughts about marketing and the people who do it.

What isn't wrong with corporate America? Support Michael Moore!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Mohammed Has Dick Cheney Eyes

Dick Cheney, looking dangerously thin, who's mouth is always shovel ready to shovel the sh*t to anyone who will listen, was at the Bush II presidential library site yesterday.

While there he called it the only "shovel ready project" in America as he grinned out of the only side of his mouth that will still grin.

We who have heard him (through his daughter who suffers from emotional incest) extol the virtues of torture, know that Dick was grinning his favourite criminal grin.

We know because we know he helped engineer the greatest bank robbery ever fostered on the American people.

He knows, as the Wall Street Journal pointed out, that the 1% who have the money, after it was stolen from the 99%, are not spending it because they want the democrats to fail, starting with the House, and then on to the President.

The lyrics from the song of choice for this post is:
[he'll] expose you
When [he] snows you
Off your feet with the crumbs [he] throws you
[he's] ferocious
And [he] knows just what it
Takes to make a pro blush
All the boys Think [he's] a spy,
[he's] got [Dick Cheney] eyes
(Bette Davis Eyes, apologies to Kim Carnes). So what else does Mohammed have in common with Dick Cheney?

Lets reflect on some history.

Not one person, business, or other entity has answered the Dredd Blog question, "where did the historic infrastructure spending bill money go?", which we asked about a year ago:
We are talking about "the most expensive public works legislation in US history" having creative billions reserved as special earmarking to the tune of "$24 billion for a staggering 6,376 pet projects, spread among virtually every congressional district in the land".

"The enormous bill -- 1,752 pages long" costing "$286.4 BILLION" known as "the highway bill" was the republican congress and republican president's bill passed in late 2005.

But it did not stop the Minnesota bridge from collapsing and killing American citizens, nor did it stop the great recession that is still ongoing.
(Mega Infrastructure Bill To Make Jobs?). Dick Cheney was Vice President (some say President of Vice) at that time, shortly thereafter a new ruler "Mohammed" emerged in Dubai, Dick Cheney's company Halliburton moved its headquarters to Dubai, which raised some formidable questions:

Who rules the nation that has the largest man made harbor on earth and the busiest U.S. Navy port of call?

Who rules the nation that was given permission to take over a military hardware producing U.S. company?

Who rules the nation that has the tallest building on earth?

Who rules the nation that has the largest airport in the world?

Who rules the nation that received billions of U.S. taxpayer money in the TARP bailout?

Who rules the nation that has the headquarters for Dick Cheney's company Halliburton?

Who rules the nation where AIG did a lot of shady business?

Who rules the nation that would have ruled over U.S. ports if Bush II had his way?

Who rules the nation that has luxurious villas purchased by U.S. taxpayer dollars, gushing from the U.S. Treasury into Afghanistan, then to this ruler's realm?

For some mysterious reason the answer is Mohammed.(Islamic Ruler of Dubai). Follow the money to Dubai, then back into the corporations that dumped billions of dollars into creating the T-party, then into defeating the democrats in 2010, with even more to be spent in 2012.

The republicans give thanks to the Supreme NeoCons on the Supreme NeoCon Court who elected Bush II with 5 supreme votes in Bush v Gore, because they also voted their 5 supreme votes to do away with 100 year old election laws designed to keep foreign influence out of our government (see Foreign Citizens United v FEC).

They all have Dick Cheney eyes, the eyes of the lizard brain that is rising up as a result of the passing of the peak of sanity.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

The Peak Of Sanity

In his book "Peak Everything", author Richard Heinberg points out that civilization is effectively running out of all fundamental resources, not just oil.

This post deals with what authors of that ilk, what government, and what many others understandably leave out: the peak of sanity.

Regular readers here know that The Dredd Blog is known for pointing out that we have reached passed the peak of sanity in the USA, meaning that sanity is on the decline.

While it hasn't been said exactly with the words "The Peak of Sanity", until this post, regular readers know that is the thrust of many, many Dredd Blog posts about national dementia in the USA.

We have even quoted public documents concerning the field of dementia in the USA, which contain the remarkable words:
OUR government is ignoring what is likely to become the single greatest threat to the health of Americans: Alzheimer’s disease, an illness that is 100 percent incurable and 100 percent fatal.
(Your Health Is Their Number 1 Enemy). We go on to say in "Will Elections Cure The Disease", that dementia is even becoming an incurable national characteristic that has forged the domestic & foreign policies of endless wars, financial crime sprees, runaway war deficits, criminal dominion over public money, demise of constitutional values, and feckless administrative, judicial, & legislative reactions.

The situation is made more dire because there is no democratic mechanism, once called accountability, for the people to keep those who are suffering from dementia out of public offices of power.

The voters are increasingly given a menu of rotting ideology to chose from, none of the choices designed to solve the problems, so by and large the exercise is replacing one demented policy with another one.

Thus, the business as usual demise has spiralled out of the control of the citizenry.

The fundamental reason it is out of control is that it really is not recognized, because we use a form of cognition and debate to handle these absolutely monumental problems that simply cannot deal with it:
We can't solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.” —Albert Einstein
(Brainy Quotes). Or to put it yet another way:
"Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results." —Albert Einstein
(Brainy Quotes). That "form of cognition and debate" is BAU (business as usual), which takes the format: "we have always solved our problems, therefore we will solve these problems", "relax, kick back and enjoy watching your experts at work who will save you", "these things take time", "we are not perfect", "we have formed a commission of those who caused the problem in the first place to solve it", and on and on this insanity spreads.

What is not being factored in yet, even by competent scientists, which I think is going to change, is this impact of national and global dementia on the ability to actually solve the problems.

The pie charts, black board formulae, spread sheets, computer models, textbooks, white papers, and the like, which project the peak of everything, leave out the fact that these looming catastrophic circumstances will affect the psychology of the populace in very negative, cognition jarring ways.

The virtual explosion of individual dementia is a microcosm of the related macrocosm that is happening on a national, and eventually if not already, a global scale.

The lizard brain will arise to blot out the effective functioning of the larger cognitive brain, which does not bode well for this current civilization.

Let's hope the next civilization can focus first and foremost on the health of the Earth which produces a substantial portion of the health of civilization, or its demise, depending on the status of the environmental mental health of a given civilization.

The next post in this series is here.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Dumb & Dumber -> Bleak & Bleeker

"Fog's rollin' in ..."
Regular readers know that this blog depicts current politics as various forms of dementia.

These various forms of dementia develop as symptoms of various long-term deceitful practices.

Those practices range anywhere from the realm of spin and "white lies" all the way to intensely professional propaganda which is constantly broadcast through the multi-billion dollar main stream media, which has one "home", one homogeneous origin, yes, a single purpose: to hide various facts and truths from us.

When government officials get dumb and dumber, the reality for the people is that government behavior gets more bleak as time goes on.

To begin with, when "reality" is converted into play pretend by demented officials, through "spin" or propaganda, State Crimes Against Democracy is the driving force which those deranged authoritarians call "reality":
''We're an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you're studying that reality -- judiciously, as you will -- we'll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that's how things will sort out. We're history's actors . . . and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do.''
(Karl Christian Rove). Musicians, poets, and other artists capture this demented essence sometimes, then put it into words wrapped in music that captures the reality in a memorable way:

Fog's rollin' in off the East River bank
Like a shroud it covers Bleeker Street
Fills the alleys where men sleep
Hides the shepherd from the sheep

Voices leaking from a sad cafe
Smiling faces try to understand
I saw a shadow touch a shadow's hand
On Bleeker Street

(Bleeker Street, Simon & Garfunkel, see photo above). Almost to a person the incoming Republican victors to the House of Representatives deny global climate change and global warming.

Once again, however, a new study cuts off the foundation they had rested substantial portions of their skepticism on:
The troposphere, the lower part of the atmosphere closest to the Earth, is warming and this warming is broadly consistent with both theoretical expectations and climate models, according to a new scientific study that reviews the history of understanding of temperature changes and their causes in this key atmospheric layer ...

In the 1990s, observations did not show the troposphere, particularly in the tropics, to be warming, even though surface temperatures were rapidly warming. This lack of tropospheric warming was used by some to question both the reality of the surface warming trend and the reliability of climate models as tools. This new paper extensively reviews the relevant scientific analyses -- 195 cited papers, model results and atmospheric data sets -- and finds that there is no longer evidence for a fundamental discrepancy and that the troposphere is warming.
(Ecocosmology Blog, emphasis added). Other recent studies debunked other facets of their jewel of denial, relentlessly promoted by T-baggers who fancy themselves the same way Karl Rove fancies himself.

They actually think that by making stuff up they thereby change the nature of the universe, basically because they think they are exceptional legends in their own mind.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Morph: "TARP" Meme -> "TRAP" Meme

In a previous series Banker Jekyll will Hyde Your Money, we delved into the paperwork problems Bush II era bunkonomics had generated.

Which led to what was originally called the "Troubled Asset Relief Program", or TARP (which caused no little political turmoil) has now evidently morphed into "Troubled Relief Asset Program", or TRAP, which may cause even more troubled waters:
... if a Wall Street bank were to discover that, due to shoddily executed paperwork, it still owns millions of defaulted mortgages that it thought it sold off years ago, it could face billions of dollars in unexpected losses. To put in perspective the potential problem, the mortgage-backed securities market totals approximately $7.6 trillion, so irregularities that affect even a small percentage of this market could have dramatic effects on bank balance sheets - potentially posing risks to the very financial stability that the Troubled Asset Relief Program was designed to protect.
(Congressional Oversight Committee, see Full Report, PDF). In other words the mortgage market was being managed by the plunder barons who were hiring the robber barons who were hiring unemployed McDonald's personnel to create the greatest McMortgage disaster in the nation's history.

Expect a storm of propaganda a la the great gulf of truth storm that happened in the Deepwater Horizon ecological disaster.

Yes, this next financial disaster puts the banksters in the same Deepwater of red ink the life in the Gulf of Mexico experienced from the oilsters of MOMCOM, and therefore some folks are going to hurt for a long, long time:
Borrowers may be unable to determine whether they are sending their monthly payments to the right people. Judges may block any effort to foreclose, even in cases where borrowers have failed to make regular payments. Multiple banks may attempt to foreclose upon the same property. Borrowers who have already suffered foreclosure may seek to regain title to their homes and force any new owners to move out. Would-be buyers and sellers could find themselves in limbo, unable to know with any certainty whether they can safely buy or sell a home.
(ibid, Congressional Oversight Committee Report, linked above, emphasis added). I can't help but repeat the Dredd Blog mantra that national propaganda from officialdom leads to demented dishonesty, which trickles down to those MOMCOM considers to be "the great unwashed".

eMail From Daily Kos To Dredd Blog

I recently received an email from the good folks over at the Daily Kos Blog, so I thought I would share it with Dredd Blog readers:

There is a consensus among American “elites” on Social Security. Most CEOs, pundits, and elected officials favor cutting and / or privatizing it, claiming that doing so will reduce the deficit. That claim is a lie, since Social Security is fully funded through 2037, pays for itself 100%, and doesn’t add one dime to the deficit.

We can’t expect these CEOs, Republicans, pundits and Blue Dogs to stop propagating their lies about Social Security. Instead, if we are going to stop this alliance of elites from cutting Social Security, the first thing we must do is promise ourselves we won’t ever buy into their lies.

That’s why at Daily Kos we're asking you to sign a pledge, to yourself, promising you will never support cutting or privatizing Social Security. Click here to sign the pledge.

With the elite consensus in place, the only reason Social Security hasn’t been cut or privatized already is because the public is overwhelmingly opposed. If, for whatever reason, a significant number of progressives start supporting Social Security cuts, then the elites will have the cover they need and the battle will be lost.

You are the first and last line of defense for Social Security. No matter what happens in the coming weeks and months, and no matter who ends up supporting cuts in Social Security, we must stand united in our opposition.

It is imperative that you promise yourself to never support cutting or privatizing Social Security. Take the pledge now.

Chris Bowers
Campaign Director, Daily Kos

I certainly support those efforts, because MOMCOM wants to take from the poor and give it to the rich who do not need it.

Shame on MOMCOM.

UPDATE: A Government Accountability Office Report indicates that raising the retirement age could or would do damage to the program itself, because 25% of people who could have retired earlier would have to opt for disability instead, which generally costs the system more than early retirement does.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Etiology of Social Dementia - 3

In the first post of this series "Etiology of Social Dementia", we fingered government propaganda, leading to national doublespeak, as one trigger of dementia.

Then in "Etiology of Social Dementia - 2" we focused a bit more, zooming in on government war propaganda as one central trigger.

In the series "Jabber The Whut?" we dissected the issue a bit more, by discussing what is meant by government in the USA, then elaborated by discussing certain triggers of dementia emanating from the MOMCOM realm.

The subtitle of this post today, could easily be: "MOMCOM can fool some of the people all the time, but MOMCOM can't fool all of the people all of the time".

The fundamental subject matter of this post comes from considering the negative, destructive effects that MOMCOM forces on the citizenry by fooling them.

Fooling them with degrees of misrepresentation, called "spin", "propaganda", or "deceit".

When we ask ourselves "where does that type of dementia originate", one obvious answer is "the brain", but where in the brain, and how does it get there in the first place?

Of course, in the abstract, that depends on the type of dementia, i.e., whether it is triggered by a physical injury to some part of the brain, such as blunt force trauma, some chemical toxin, or whether it is triggered by a non-physical, ethereal source (e.g. emotional trauma, and the like).

This post is directed, then, toward ethereal sources that lead to the triggering of dementia of a particular sort.

Quotes from two posts, on other blogs, give us a basis for the remainder of this post:
There is a large amount of data indicating that the amygdala, a particular structure in the brain, is strongly involved during the learning of "conditioned" fear ... distinct neuronal circuits within the central nucleus of the amygdala ... are specifically involved in acquisition and control of behavioural fear responses ... researchers have recently discovered that ... prolonged activation of this defense system may lead to emotional disorders.
(Toxins of Power Blog). Lets narrow that down a bit to the emotional, ethereal dynamic of "trust":
Trust ... plays a key role in economic exchange and politics. In the absence of trust among trading partners, market transactions break down. In the absence of trust in a country's institutions and leaders, political legitimacy breaks down. Much recent evidence indicates that trust contributes to economic, political and social success ...

"If you take a broad enough definition of trust, then it would explain basically all the difference between the per capita income of the United States and Somalia," ventures Steve Knack, a senior economist at the World Bank who has been studying the economics of trust for over a decade. That suggests that trust is worth $12.4 trillion dollars a year to the U.S., which, in case you are wondering, is 99.5% of this country's income ...

The drop in trust, we believe, is a major factor behind the deteriorating economic conditions.
(Washington's Blog). We can easily link dementia to trust, truth, and money, by remembering: those jumping out of buildings during market crashes, the increase in divorces during economic trauma, the surge of suicides in the military, and this statement:
Trauma can be caused by a wide variety of events, but there are a few common aspects. There is frequently a violation of the person's familiar ideas about the world and of their human rights, putting the person in a state of extreme confusion and insecurity. This is also seen when people or institutions, depended on for survival, violate or betray or disillusion the person in some unforeseen way.
(Wikipedia, Psychological Trauma, citing The Harm of Trauma, PDF). You are doin' a heckuva job MOMCOM.

The next post in this series is here, the previous post in this series is here.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Jabber The Whut? - 4

This is the final post in this series, at least for a while, after having already set the stage here, here, and here.

Now we focus on the damage done to the USA by the vast media realm of MOMCOM, the one that has the power to cause you to always see the outer persona of MOMCOM (see photo of woman & chimp below), instead of seeing the inside job depicted by the graphic of Jabba The Hutt above.

The fundamental, underlying scientific theory behind the psychological details of this post is a post "The Toxic Bridge To Everywhere" (link below) from the Toxins of Power blog, while the underlying subject matter is set up in the previous posts in this series, which have been linked to in the introductory sentence above.

You may be asking what do you mean by "the damage done to the USA by the vast media realm", which is a good place to start:
There is a large amount of data indicating that the amygdala, a particular structure in the brain, is strongly involved during the learning of "conditioned" fear ... distinct neuronal circuits within the central nucleus of the amygdala ... are specifically involved in acquisition and control of behavioural fear responses ... researchers have recently discovered that ... prolonged activation of this defense system may lead to emotional disorders.
(The Toxic Bridge To Everywhere). Scholars in the USA, Great Presidents, and Great Generals alike have been aware for decades of the damage MOMCOM's overactive amygdala does.

Yes they have known that what the media are being used for by elements within the government & corporate structure (to spread propaganda / psychological conditioning far and wide) will undo the nation.

A Dredd Blog hypothesis is that this is part of the reason that one day, if it is not stopped:
If I were to say that maybe now, but for sure in the future as our economy crawls back to 3, 4, 5 or 6 percent unemployment, more U.S. citizens will begin to lose their minds than will lose homes, jobs, or health care, would you believe it?

The statistics can be said to fairly lead an analyst slowly but surely toward such a conclusion ...
(Will Elections Cure The Disease?). Since MOMCOM's use of propaganda and torture, which the USA is infamous for lately, also damages the cognitive abilities of those using such techniques, it is unlikely that recovery of any sort will acquit the downward spiral.

The whole government under the controlling influence of MOMCOM has become "The Department of Just Us", unconcerned with the humanities which once upon a time they were charged with implementing.

Open Thread

Gopher it Sunday shoppers ...

Suu Kyi returns
The West can't defeat al Qaeda