ne pas dire la vérité

There is something seriously wrong with our culture when Asia Argento posts pictures from people actually on the ground in Istanbul right now only to be told that she should no be posting the pictures because they are so terrible…

  • Yes!  It is terrible that they are using Agent Orange against the protesting youth.
  • Yes!  It is terrible that there are several pictures of upwards of five men beating a single protester into the ground (I seem to remember that causing riots here in the US)
  • Yes! It is terrible that a protester had his eyes gauged out.
  • Yes! It is terrible that we are all so desensitized and apathetic that we would rather just not have to see these atrocities.  In fact, I think that is worse than any of it – because in truth, the conflict in Istanbul is one that will end and one that will come again in an endless cycle of violence that marks history.  But at the point that we just don’t want to see it… that rather than being enraged at Turkey for blocking news media and trying to hide their crimes against civil rights, people are enraged that such crimes are being shoved under their noses.

I have made no secret about the fact that I have a love/hate relationship with the digital revolution that I find myself living in.  I have cautioned that we have too much access… our flood of unqualified and unedited information creates a situation where people have the illusion of transparency while knowing nothing.  Maybe I am wrong – maybe we should have been forced to see every body in Tienanmen Square.  Maybe we should see all of the rights violations in China, the attacks against the people of Tibet – Maybe we should see all of the bodies in Sierra Leon.  Perhaps a magnifying glass put on such behavior would limit it…

Or maybe Eddie Izzard is right – and we don’t care how many people you kill so long as you keep to killing your own people… so Turkey can kill its youth, genocide can continue to be ignored in Africa, the ICC can use laws written in 400 c.e. to determine whether war crimes were committed between Bosnia and Kosovo.  As long as we, as Americans, don’t have to see it… as long as you aren’t trying to invade someone who has anything we want… then we don’t want to know.

Astroturf dans n’importe quelle langue est tout aussi faux …

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What is astroturf?

Well everyone knows the answer to that… it is that strange fake grass that has taken over far too many football stadiums.
True or False?

Both, but as I am about to discuss it, Astroturfing refers to political, advertising, or public relations campaigns that are designed to mask the sponsors of the message to give the appearance of coming from a disinterested, grassroots participant. Astroturfing is intended to give the statements the credibility of an independent entity by withholding information about the source’s financial connection. The term is a derivation of AstroTurf, a brand of synthetic carpeting designed to look like natural grass.

Astroturfers use software to mask their identity. Sometimes one individual operates over many personas to give the impression of widespread support for their client’s agenda.  Some studies suggest astroturfing can alter public viewpoints and create enough doubt to inhibit action.

The tea-party is famous for them.  The Koch brothers have founded more of them than I can name.  Big pharmaceutical, Agra-business, Big tobacco, Politicians…
It is actually very simple.  Hire someone like me who is good at organization and public speaking.  Pay them a lot of money to start a “grass-roots” organization that is supposed to be a movement by the people and for the people in order to get some change to occur.  Seed this organization with more paid supporters and even a few paid dissenters, because having dissent makes an argument more powerful and compelling.  Town Hall Meetings – they are nearly all seeded with paid individuals on both sides to ask specific questions… some pro-policy in order to give the politician a chance to shine and look popular… some anti-policy in order to give the politician an opportunity to turn it into a witty answer to a “hard” question that he or she was already well prepared to answer… making them look good even to their detractors.
The “tea-party” is the greatest example of this.  The “tea-party” is actually nothing more than an astroturf re-sodding of the John Birch Society.  Some things you should know… The Koch Brothers have been funding conservative “think tanks” officially since 1971.  Currently, they control the Citizens for a Sound Economy and Americans for Prosperity openly… and that does not even get into the numerous other “grass-roots” organizations that have been traced back to them financially.  The John Birch Society was beaten into obscurity by one of its own former members, William F. Buckley Jr. and Ronald Reagan… with both being dead, there have been few to point out the fact that the “tea-party” is nothing more than the Koch Brothers trying to revive an old political movement that was as bad an idea then as it is now.
Here is what truly upsets me about all this – it is not that people are ignorant (to be honest, I have almost come to expect that people are too easily fooled).  What upsets me is that the vast majority of those who identify themselves as members of the “tea-party” are actually the people who would be hurt the most by them coming into power.  The working middle class… yes, they want to keep the money they earn and rightly so… but if the “tea-party” ever truly gained control, there would be no middle class and they would be the ones hit hardest financially.  They are also often the people with the least access to the education to teach them that these “grass-roots” organizations that sound so logical when they speak about small government and keeping your hard earned money and changing how Washington works… are bought and paid for soundbites that have been being tested in “think tanks” for over 4 decades to appeal to that group of voters.
I mean, I should be grateful because the “tea-party” has caused such a schism within the Republican Party that the vote gets split which increases the chances of Democratic rule.  Of course, this would make me a lot happier if todays Democrats did not hold the exact same policies as yesterdays post-Birch Society Republicans.  Do you have any idea how close the policies of President Obama and President Reagan are…?
  • Once upon a time, the DNC was the people’s party.  They looked out for the lower and middle classes.  Their biggest weakness was lack of organization because they held a fundamental belief that each legislator should vote their conscious and their constituency.
  • Contrarily, the RNC was the educated party – they were the “think tanks” and the Ivy League grads who all spoke with one voice and one vote – while that voice and that vote was not always something that I agreed on – they got things done, where as (best evidenced by President Carter – best post-presidential career ever) the DNC had trouble getting much of anything done.
  • Everything has been flipped on its heads.  Now the RNC wants to swill beer and pretend that they are the people’s party and that the DNC are just a bunch of intellectual elitests (personally, I want someone smarter than me running the nation but hey… if you want the guy who drinks beer with you and can’t throw darts for shit – have at it).  Of course – the fact that most of them are still Ivy League educated and Wall Street funded gets ignored.  Why – because they have kept one core principle.  They still speak with one voice and one vote.  So the soundbite goes out to every candidate that they are going to take over Washington and look out for your best interests – while it is Wall Street’s money that is putting them there and it is Wall Street and big business that they will be concerning themselves with.  They have jammed the legislative bodies up so bad that it is like passing legislation is like getting a rich man into heaven (you know… pass through the eye of a needle… if I have to explain it you don’t get it).  Moderates, like Huntsman, who might actually be decent candidates  can’t even get to the Primary because they poll so low because we the people or rather the astroturf organizations that speak for us say that we want extremists…
  • Personally – I take a pretty dim view of the tea-party movement.  If you look at the creation and momentum, you will see that it really started to get a foothold when it was looking like we might get our first African American President.  Now, I do not want to get into how “black” President Obama is or the “right” or “wrong” of playing what is so shamefully called the “race card” but the reality is that most of those drawn to the tea-party movement are white middle-americans.  They are people who are easily convinced with the right rhetoric that allowing homosexuals the right to marry will somehow affect their own marriages (I will never understand that one – beyond it just being against the 14th Amendment but then most of these folks stop at the 2nd Amendment), that Mexicans are flooding our borders to take all of the jobs (when in truth migrant workers come and take jobs that actual experimentation has proven that white Americans will not take even if paid minimum wage and offered benefits), and that President Obama is actually a secret Muslim who is not even born in this country (we will ignore the fact that one of the troubles early in his campaign was his association with an outspoken and extremist Christian minister, that the long form of his birth certificate has been produced, and that in all reality – the whole birther thing is pretty stupid (and also yet another example of astroturfing) considering the lengths one would have to go to in order to plan all the way back when he was born all that was needed in the hopes that he would become President one day.  Truth – Stephen Colbert started the secret Muslim thing as a satirical joke and now feels terrible that it was taken so seriously that it has yet to die down.)  It is easy to sell the tea-party ideas to a bunch of people who are in all reality suffering a backlash of a horrifyingly disastrous Republican Presidency and then the election of an African American President – so yea… post race America… think again.  But then again – that is just my personal and very cynical voice talking.
I do not know what the next four years will bring and I do not know what the next Presidential Election will look like.  I’m hoping that people are paying enough attention to vote in the Mid-Terms this go-round, but I’m not counting on it.  All I ask is that you think for your self… and if any organization claims to be “grass-roots” dig it up and see just how dirty those roots are.

La mort de principes

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Bombings in Boston – Gun Control – Health care – Gridlock – GITMO – Corporations = People – Gay Marriage Rights… there is so much going on in our political system and yet it seems that, as “We the People” we have forgotten a few things.

 

  • Love it or hate it – this country is founded on some pretty basic principles. One of the most basic of which is that said principles apply to EVERYONE. From a practical perspective, what does that mean?

 

  • 14th Amendment = the Right to Marriage Act is unconstitutional as it is discriminatory.
  • 1st Amendment = the right to say and express what you like and hate about this government. For all you conservatives out there that keep telling the liberals to shut up and move to France (thank you Áine Snow) you might want to consider that the very forum you are using to scream and shout would not exist without the liberal mindset that you are so against. It also means that, while I come from a military family and find the burning of the American Flag to be a horrible thing, by brother – career Navy – is the first to say that his friends fought and died not only to protect that flag, but to protect the right to burn it.
  • Due Process = this does not just apply to people we like or people that do little things. It applies to everyone. All have the right to representation – and this is an idea that goes all the way back to the *gasp* Boston Massacre (which was not a massacre at all if you know your history) when a very brave lawyer stood up to defend the soldiers being accused. These soldiers were enemies of the state… yet they were afforded fair trial and due process of law because there was a strong belief that one could not found a country on principles that it did not follow.  Now we wire tap without warrants, have unmanned drones spying on our own people, have detained people on foreign soil without following the Geneva Convention or declaring the Prisoners of War but rather Enemy Combatants allowing “us” to do whatever “we” wish to them, and now even detain US citizens on US soil under the same lack of protection – even going so far as to allow the CIA (an organization formerly not allowed to work within US borders) to extract &/or kill US citizens seen as threats with absolutely no process at all.  This goes so far against the principles we were founded on that I do not even recognize this country.  I can say that, should the founding father’s get a good look – they would say that their experiment in democracy had failed.

 

  • Now – I have much to say about how far we have skewed from those principles and whether or not the Constitution even applies in many cases (I will not even start on the 2nd amendment and its gross misinterpretation) as much of the constitution was made null and void at the end of the Civil War. However, living document or no… the Constitution and the Bill of Rights are based on PRINCIPLES that can easily be applied to policy no matter the changes in society that were unforeseen when they were written. Do you think the founding fathers were unfamiliar with terrorism? The Revolution and the war of 1812 were both won by the use of terrorism and guerrilla tactics that completely ignored the prior ‘civilized’ rules of engagement. Yet their principles remained intact. What happened to ours?

de nature politique – sous-vêtements contre le viol

  • Probably pretty amazing that this is not even slightly morbid… well okay, maybe slightly.
  • Anti-rape underwear is a pretty amazing invention by Indian women to not only prevent rape but also to counter the culture of acceptable rape in societies that historically practice forms of benevolent sexism that actually accept the notion that men are inherently animals that rape women and that women not only need to accept this but are semi-responsible for the prevention through extreme submission to their menfolk.  I will spare a more complex explanation of benevolent sexism… because it is not the salient point.
  • Picture wearing a gps tracking, alarm sounding, tazer (that isn’t even bad looking).  Amazing.
  •  Here is the rub… this still promotes the idea of benevolent sexism.  It is women who designed this – promoting the idea that they are responsible for the prevention of rape rather than educating men.  One step forward, two steps back – the dance continues.