Friday, November 30, 2012

Is Obama Starting to Get Weak-Kneed over the 'Fiscal Cliff'?

Today's three- inch blaring headlines in The Denver Post embodied the media hysteria behind the fiscal cliff bunkum:


The article then proceeds to expatiate on all the perceived and projected major and minor disasters that may be expected to transpire, from defense contractors losing their money and jobs lost (no biggie - you need to find jobs that don't depend on war-making and weaponry - like $0.3 billion each F-35s that are of little use in asymmetric warfare anyhow),  to middle class folks having to suck up $2200 and more in extra taxes.  Again, no biggie - assuming you want your "entitlements" intact down the road. I.e. take the hit now, or take it when you're a geezer- via eviscerated benefits -  and no one will hire you. You can't have your 'cake' (tax cuts) and 'eat it' (future benefits). Look on higher taxes as a "gift" or at least practical device to support your future retirement, something like a 401k outlay!

In respect of the last, The New York Times today had a feature story wherein we learned that, contrary to all the hype, blather and mock consternation, that Americans have paid less in taxes than a generation ago. According to The Times, after quoting a sorehead who expressed the conviction that he wasn't getting ahead and merely "financing an expansion of government":

"“But in fact, most Americans in 2010 paid far less in total taxes — federal, state and local — than they would have paid 30 years ago. According to an analysis by The New York Times, the combination of all income taxes, sales taxes and property taxes took a smaller share of their income than it took from households with the same inflation-adjusted income in 1980.

Households earning more than $200,000 benefited from the largest percentage declines in total taxation as a share of income. Middle-income households benefited, too. More than 85 percent of households with earnings above $25,000 paid less in total taxes than comparable households in 1980. "

The Times notes that if a deal is not struck by year’s end, "a wide range of federal tax cuts passed since 2000 will expire and taxes will rise for roughly 90 percent of Americans".  But as I noted before, THIS is what the average classes must not fear - indeed, they must embrace the fiscal cliff, e.g.    The true fact, is that it's the Romney-backing plutocrats - the very ones who lost the election and now want to prevail by the back door-  who are terrified - because their free lunch Bush era tax cuts will finally end.

What this means to me, as an old class warrior,  is that WE - among the putative 98%- must take this temporary fiscal pain on in order to let the plutocrats PAY....their fair share in perpetuity. We cannot and must not allow ourselves to be used as willing pawns to trade fleeting protection from current minor tax increases for major sacrifice of future social benefits, especially Medicare (without which I'd have been dead or in the poor house now) .

We must face the fact, harsh though it might be, that the Repukes will never EVER of their own agree to the minor hike in tax rates that Obama and the Dems have proposed (merely going back to the Clinton era rates.)  We see this intransigence played out day after day, with ever more diminishing "optimism" - according to the blow dried. Newsflash: I NEVER had any such faux optimism anyway because I knew that despite all the early back slapping between Obama and Boehner that he'd never agree to a real tax rate hike. Only the phoney -baloney nonsense of closing loopholes and deductions, and then - with no enforcement provisions. And in return for which, WE - the side that won- would be expected to undergo major entitlement reform!

Fortunately, many ordinary citizens do get it, such as a commentator in the New York Times, following the tax article, who wrote:

"The idea that you trade-off Social Security and Medicare to get a small tax increase on the wealthy and super wealthy should be treated as a sick joke. Here's the problem, however: somewhere in the bowels of right wing sponsored "think tanks", it was discovered that you can make any demand, repeat it endlessly and sooner or later it gets treated as a reasonable idea. Why? Because the Democrats went intellectually bankrupt several decades ago. They lost their way, forgot their purpose and failed to articulate an updated version of why they exist. Into this vacuum, spurious ideas fly like the 50,000 bats out from underneath the Congress.

One basic tenet of American fairness should be better pay for all workers. "Because you, plutocrats, don't pay the workers for their contribution, we, Democrats, insist that you not touch Social Security. Got it?".
-  St. bridge in Austin.

 These are sentiments I share 100% but now many begin to wonder if Obama does, or if he's starting to crack under the media fiscal cliff hysteria. Many are saying "It's deja vu all over again". According to the Wall Street Journal (which got the information from GOP leaders), the President’s opening bid to Republicans is:

— $1.6 trillion in additional tax revenues over the next decade, from limiting tax deductions on the wealthy and raising tax rates on incomes over $250,000 (although those rates don’t have to rise as high as the top marginal rates under Bill Clinton)

— $50 billion in added economic stimulus next year

— A one-year postponement of pending spending cuts in defense and domestic programs

— $400 billion in savings over the decade from Medicare and other entitlement programs (the same number contained in the President’s 2013 budget proposal, submitted before the election).

Here's where the bear sits with the buckwheat:  The Obama administration, by signaling its willingness not to raise top rates as high as they were under Clinton  (which was not that much anyway - 39.6%) and to cut some $400 billion from projected increases in Medicare and other entitlement spending,  has ceded important ground. In fact, instead of hanging tough it's sent up the first hint of a white flag of surrender - or at least it's been interpreted by the Repukes that way, which is why they're more dug in than ever! (And as Richard Wolfe noted on Ed Schultz last night, those Medicare cuts WILL inflict pain and on ordinary beneficiaries. It means greater costs will be passed on by insurers, and fewer conditions will be covered)

Given this hint of white flag, Republicans now obviously want much, much more.

Most of us on the extreme Left  (which was moderate-Left  45 years ago) were afraid of Obama getting weak-kneed as the media pressure continued. We saw how he collapsed with the debt ceiling war last year and it left us sick to our guts. But we believed in him enough to get him re-elected hoping a solid win would introduce much needed testosterone into his system and turn him into a true class warrior, a fighter, as opposed to a squeamish Centrist wimp. We do hope that he concedes no more to the Reep imps and stands his ground. Elections do have consequences, besides which 60% of citizens in a recent poll want taxes increased on the highest earners, vs. 37% who don't. Meanwhile, only 44% approve of the Reeps phoney revenue increases by closing off deductions, loopholes. So why go the route of offending the majority? Let the 'pukes do that!

Let me quote Paul Krugman from his piece in today's NY Times:

"The point is that the class war is still on, this time with an added dose of deception. And this, in turn, means that you need to look very closely at any proposals coming from the usual suspects, even — or rather especially — if the proposal is being represented as a bipartisan, common-sense solution. In particular, whenever some deficit-scold group talks about “shared sacrifice,” you need to ask, sacrifice relative to what? "

I totally agree, and do hope most readers do as well. Meanwhile, Obama needs to understand we didn't go "all in" with him just to see him cave once more to the Repuke turds! Those of us who were "all in" during the election, are now ALL IN again for the class war and going OVER the fiscal cliff if the Reeps don't come to their senses. We'd rather THAT than a bad, half-assed deal not in the interest of the middle class, or the working class!

Factor Groups Via Cycles- And Some Beautiful Math

Having seen some basic group theory, I'd like to go to factor groups which disclose some really beautiful mathematics which has wide applicability. There are different ways to approach these groups but one I've found very useful is via plane, geometric (actually topological cycles). First - a simple example of a factor group: [4] = {4 + 5j: j Î Z}= {4, 9, -1, 14, -6}

Yielding five equivalence classes in all for I = (5), and:

Zn = Z/ (n)

Yielding coset: 0 + 5Z, 1 + 5Z, 2 + 5Z, 3 + 5Z, 4 + 5Z

So the factor group is: Z/ 5Z

Whence: S/I = Z/ 5Z and S/I is a factor group since

Z/ 5Z is a factor group.

In advanced physics algebraic cycles are popular because they make it easier to deal with higher dimensional space. This is accomplished by first converting the higher dimensional entity into flat, two-dimensional configuration, then assigning algebraic symbols to each 'dimension' (chain). Let's consider a relatively simple example: the basic torus pattern shown in the diagram above (copy and paste the image into a Microsoft Word or Paint field to see it better. )

If one were now to fold the left side over to the right side, so they join, ABA-left to ABA-right, s/he would be well on the way to re-forming the torus. Taping the two sides together, for example, would form a cylinder or straight tube. To complete the process, one simply joins the oppositely situated circles, ADA-top to ADA-bottom.

In the sketch, four basic regions are shown - defined as separate homology spaces. Each is of a different ‘equivalence class’ as well. Starting with the lower left corner ‘space’ and going around clockwise, these can be written:





with each one representing an individual rectangular region within the whole. In a comprehensive approach, arrows are used to define consistent directions, and either numbers or Greek letters are assigned to the box sides. This is for ease of identification of the particular equivalence classes.

For example, arrows assigned to segments AB and BA on both sides of the rectangle shown above are made to point in the same direction, say top to bottom. The same direction implies two sides have to seamlessly fit together when connected. A similar consideration applies to the bottom ends (AD + DA) when joined, so that the arrow from A to D on top would match an arrow direction from A to D on the bottom.

Thus, for the ‘top’ side of the 2D-torus:

A ---->-----D ----->------ A

and, for the ‘bottom’ side:

A ---->-----D -----> ------ A

One could go one step further, as I indicated, and assign Greek letters to the different segments. For example:

a:  A ---->-----D -----> ------ A

b:  A ---->-----D -----> ------ A

We now have a one-dimensional homology space (H1) denoted by:

H1 = (a  +   b)

The same applies to the complementary homology space (H1') that runs vertically so as to join the left and right sides, which we might denote by:

H1' = (d  + g))

These are not just homological spaces but cycles - that are themselves not boundaries. For example, one large cycle would be made by going around the outermost ‘space’ in a clockwise sense, starting from the ‘A’ in the upper left corner. We would have:

(A-D-A) -> (A-B-A)-> [-(A-D-A)] -> [-(A-B-A)]

where the minus signs precede the last two terms and help to distinguish their direction from opposite the ‘positive’ space- defined above. This could also be written in a shorthand form:

H1 + (H1') - H1 - (H1')

For which it can clearly be seen that the ‘boundary’ vanishes, since both pairs of sides (H1, H1') cancel out (having opposite signs for opposite directions). This can, of course, be written to include the ‘space’ elements:

[(a + b)] + [(d + g) ]- [(a + b)] - [(d + g )]

whence we clearly see mutually cancelling space elements
Note here that 1-cycles in a triangulated space can be generated by closed curves of the space formed by the edges of the triangulation. One can thereby form the factor group:

H1 = Z1/ B1

which amounts (roughly) to counting the closed curves that appear in the space (which are not there simply by virtue of being the boundary of a 2-dimensional segment)

Re-posing the factor group by dimension (dim):

dim H1 = dim Z1 - dim B1

where dim Z1 = [b + 1 - n]

for any connected complex and: b = branches, n = nodes (nodes are the corners of the rectangle ABCD)

For the torus: b = 4 and n = 4

so: dim Z1 = 4 + 1 - 4 = 1 = dim H1

And dim B1 = dim Z1 - dim H1 = 1 - 1 = 0

Well, what does all this gain us? Where might we be going? The beauty of this branch of math is that higher

dimensionality can be represented with simpler, lower dimensional configurations.

If we desired, we could place the points referencing the nodes into a set, which we’d call Co :  the space of “zero-chains”.  The “dim” or dimension measures, are very important, and we need some of these to proceed to basic relations later:
dim Co = the number of nodes = n

dim C1 = the number of branches = b

dim H1 = the number of connected components of a complex

dim Z1 = the number of cycles = [b + 1 – n]

We can see fairly easily that if the set Co is basically the set of nodes, then the set C1 is basically the figure (rectangle ABCD) itself, comprising: a) the set of nodes or zero-dimensional points A, B, C, and D, and b) the set of branches or 1-dimensional objects: ab,  dg etc.

Meanwhile the space of 1-chains can be represented: k = {k_a , k_b ……} within which each branch can be specified as a vector such that: a, = [1, 0, 0,……]T, with the next:

b = [0, 1, 0,……]T etc. .

Thus, each branch has prescribed values corresponding to the order for the Greek letter assigned, such that ‘1’ always commences for a, with all other places occupied by 0, extending to the full number of nodes, n.  Such specification is very useful when we seek to describe the “boundary map” say from C1 to  Co  . This is annotated in such as way that the segment or partial boundary, call it (branch) = (node)final – (node) initial

Problems: For the figure given in the inset graphic

1) Show that: dim Ho - dim Z1 = dim Co - dim C1

2) Show that: dim Z1 = dim  C1    -  dim Bo  

3) Show that: dim Ho   =   dim Co  - dim Bo  

4) Find: a,  b

5) Thence find, given (4):    a  -   ¶b

Is it true that k =0 for the WHOLE figure?

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Rachel Maddow's Theory on the Repuke Political Gamesmanship with Susan Rice is Correct!

There is no gainsaying the fact that Rachel Maddow is one of the most brilliant articulators in all of television. Her intellect stands like a shining beacon as brilliant as a thousand suns compared to all the blow-dried wannabes on the Right, and other pretenders (like Nora O'Donnell) in the mainstream Corporate Wurlitzer. You see, Rachel not only articulates but provides marvelous insight as she does so. Truly, I cannot understand how anyone who adopts the monicker "liberal" isn't watching her night after night.

Two nights ago, Rachel put forward what I believe is the only credible theory concerning the Republicans' continued Benghazi-based witch hunt of Susan Rice. Rice, a Rhodes Scholar, is possibly a nominee for Hillary Clinton's position at State, which is exactly why the Repubs are grand standing and carrying on as if she's really CONDI Rice - one of the inveterate liars that got us into the Iraq mess.

As Rachel asked: What can explain this fixation, which borders on obsessive compulsive disorder, or at least unchecked paranoia? What can explain people like John McCain and Lindsay Graham harassing Ms. Susan Rice when they easily gave Condi a pass for her own appointment at State - for the Bush Jr. first term? What can explain their continued attitude of condescension ("She can't be very bright!" - John McCain) and hostility? Especially when Rice was not even in the State Dept. when the Benghazi attack unfolded but the U.S. Ambassador to the UN. All Rice did was appear briefly on a Sunday morning talk show - not even before any formal court, or after swearing in, and you'd think she was the next thing to Bin Ladin's wife the way Graham, McCain, Bob Corker (TN) and now even Susan Collins (supposedly the most level headed) are carrying on!

Rachel's theory is simple and brilliant: The Reeps are carrying on as if all their sacred cows were gored at once because they are using political theater - under the ruse of the Benghazi incident (which has already been explained to them repeatedly) - as a means to force Obama to appoint John Kerry instead, thereby forcing a special election for his Massachusetts Senate seat. They are betting that their one time Tea Pot hero, Scott Brown, will be the benefactor and thereby return to the Senate! (Some deluded Dems actually don't believe this will be a 'biggie', but they are fooling themselves!)

At first glance, the linear plodding brain has problems, as it does with conspiracies, because it's unable to think at two different levels at once. In addition, the plodding brain can't see that the Repukes are all about exploiting political crises to further their political ends, agendas. "Aw, they'd never make such a fuss just to get an extra Senate seat!" Oh yes they would!  They are just as petty, craven and cynical as they've always been, and they'd stoop to that and even lower! Make no mistake!

Otherwise, why the fuck keep harassing Susan Rice, even after she gave these asswipes an hour of her time, accompanied by the Assistant CIA Director? As I already observed, the intelligence community (including CIA, NRA and NSA) would never have divulged what they REALLY believed  to have transpired at Benghazi in talking points to a UN Ambassador. Thus, the intelligence community would have massaged the actual facts so that too much was not given away...especially to bloodthirsty witch hunters - who as it was, on account of their obsession, had already exposed details of U.S. Embassy security operations!

But will the Reeps acknowledge this? NO! Because to do so means they can't keep their anti-Susan Rice appointment bandwagon (circus?) going!

This is all the more reason why Obama and the Dems must dig in on this and not relent! Obama needs to forthwith formally appoint the well-qualified Ms. Rice and let the chips fall where they may! Most especially, the chips will show a retinue of white Reepos harassing and impugning the character of an intelligent black woman. It will show other minorities that in no way are these Reepos changelings, even after an election in which the minority vote was the deciding factor.

Obama lose "political capital"? Fuck no! The Reepos will for the next election, and the next, and the next....

Footnote (11/30):

Major kudos to Rachel again, for last night's segment in which she showed clips of ALL the Susan Rice opponents campaigning openly and vigorously for Scottie Brown! The clips included: Kelly Ayotte (R-NH), loudly proclaiming Brown as her "ally", Susan Collins (R-ME) yucking it up with Brown at her side at a rally and John McCain loudly proclaiming  "THIS is the man I want in the Senate more than anyone else!"


Uh, in respect to Rachel's theory, can we now say CASE CLOSED!

Kelly Ayotte, questioned  yesterday about Rachel's theory by Andrea Franklin, dismissed it as "absurd". Maybe, lady, YOU are the one absurd as you take the rest of us for simpletons!

A REAL Piss-Off Issue: Hell Mongers Who Threaten Siblings That Have Months to Live

My wife and I were watching Rachel Maddow on MSNBC last night, wifey with her laptop open – when a ‘ping’ for email arrived. It was from our long time (20 years) friend Nancy, who lives in Aurora. Nancy has been stoically trying to make the best of life after learning her dear older brother, David, had recently been diagnosed with massive, metastasizing adenocarcinoma that has spread to liver, abdomen, spleen, and lymph glands. After a meeting with his oncologist he was given about 6-7 months to live.

Nancy had emailed that she and siblings got together over the Thanksgiving holiday: Dave, wife Mary, Nancy and another hyper Christian sister named “Leah”. (Note that two years ago, Nancy, Dave and Mary accompanied my wife and me to Barbados). Things went okay until Leah buttonholed Dave for an hour, hocking her own brand of hell-mongering baloney and bullshit, and warning him that unless he got “saved before he died he would end up burning in Hell forever”.

To rub it in deeper, this clown zealot then asked him: "You DO want to see Mom and Dad, don't you? Well, you won't if you're burning in Hell!"  Dave already dealing with the stress from the worst prognosis one could conceive took it stoically. I admire the guy, because had I been there in his place, I’d have told the harpy to fuck herself. No apologies, no goofy ‘telling it through the flowers’.

Dave, to be sure, is a gentleman - and I mean that literally. He is of benign temperament and takes most things in stride, unlike me. (Perhaps why I am dogged with high blood pressure, but maybe because I’m outraged most of the time, especially by obdurate Repukes who play political games with our nation's future and hell-mongering fundie whackos who prey on the weak.) Dave is also one of the few people who was able to read my entire book, ‘The Atheist’s Handbook to Modern Materialism’ and even asked intelligent questions about various chapters. He noted that it provided him with a solid perspective on many things, including that there was no afterlife: when we’re gone we’re gone, as with anesthesia. (I did make allowances for a nonlocal afterlife but this is nothing to do with anything supernatural, i.e.

My beef with Leah presuming to “save” her brother is the same I have with other Fundie idiots who have nothing better to do with their time than trespass on time and eternity with their boring, ignorant misinterpretations of two thousand year old bollocks written by sheep herders. It would not be so bad if they all remained in their own enclaves (looney bins) but no – they are allowed to go out into the world and render damage to stressed or weakened psyches. People who have been through one wringer or other and don’t deserve mental stress on top of physical deterioration. Moreover, they do it relentlessly to the most unassuming people, or those with a very short timeline like Dave. People who, unlike me – would never take these creeps by the scruff of the neck and bodily hurl them out the door and into the street.

Why are these psychos - like Leah and a certain pretend FLA pastor- running around loose? Why not confined to an institution someplace and on meds, or with ECT prescribed? Who knows? I guaran-damn-tee you, however, if anyone aggressively pushed aliens and ETs like these nutcases, they wouldn't be tolerated. But because the blather carries the specious cachet of "religious speech" they are allowed to get away with it. Meanwhile, Stalin would have long since had them locked up in Gulags and receiving home -made anti- psychotics.  (I generally don't applaud the likes of Stalin, or Mao Tse Tung, but in regards to controlling uppity, in -your face, hell-mongering Christians, they did have the right idea! In that respect, our country allows these nuts way too much leeway.)

First, let's understand the whole basis for their suppositions on the afterlife is totally askew.

A condescending aspect of current evangelical Christianity is its prescription for personal salvation: that one must be “born again in the Lord Jesus Christ” and “accept Him as persona Savior”. Of course, in spouting this codswallop, Christians thoughtlessly consign billions to the Christians’ eternal microwave: Hindus, Jains, Muslims, Buddhists and others – whose only “crime” is they either refused to follow, or weren’t privy to, the magic salvation formula. 

In fact, the evidence shows that the Christian myth of the unique God-Man / Savior is not original, but probably plagiarized from earlier pagan sources – such as the Book of Mithras - nee 'Mithra' (Actually, the Zendavesta). This was the main source for the ancient religion of Mithraism, which predated Christianity by hundreds of years.

Exactly like Jesus, Mithras (Mithra) was “born of a virgin” (Anahita), in humble surroundings, and later worked miracles including walking on water, and raising the dead. He was also crucified, died and was buried, to ascend three days later. Coincidence? Hardly! It is more likely the basis of a common myth (also present with the God-Man Horus, and Orpheus) present throughout antiquity. Thus, it would have made eminent sense for the early New Testament authors to copy these stories where they could. Why reinvent the proverbial Savior “wheel”?  Indeed, why re-invent a punitive afterlife, when the Mithraists had already conceived a "Hell" that was essentially wholesale copied by Christians?

In his excellent expose article “How Jesus Got A Life” (The American Atheist, June, 1992, p. 46) author Frank Zindler notes even more comparisons, such as the fact that Mithras was born of Anahita on Dec. 25th (the Winter Solstice, according to then crude computations), he was also worshipped on SUN-days (being also a solar deity), and the leader was called “papa” (pope) and ruled from the “mithraeum” on the Vatican Hill in Rome.

Mithraic priests also wore “miters” (from which current Catholic Bishops’ head gear is derived), and they consumed a sacred meal “Myazda” – which “was completely analogous to the Catholic Eucharist service”. (Ibid.)  Why the need to copy wholesale earlier God-man stories? The Catholic historian, the Rev. Thomas Bokenkotter is clear on this:

“The Gospels were not meant to be a historical or biographical account of Jesus. They were written to convert unbelievers to faith in Jesus as the Messiah, or God.”

In other words, the earlier pagan tracts and myths were copied to try to fulfill a Church agenda, not to disclose any historical or biographical truth.  Later Protestant sects, formed after the Reformation, would simply alter the theme to making “salvation” contingent not only on the belief in the overall God-Man mythology – but BELIEF in the MYTHICAL MAN as GOD and SAVIOR. In other words, what evangelicals are effectively doing, is threatening unbelievers with eternal perdition unless they embrace a God-Man account likely plagiarized by their Catholic forbears from ancient pagan works.

  Ah, but to confer credibility, or what we in the secular world call 'rabid cherry picking' - the numskulls had to dredge up what they took to be biblical or scriptural quotations to "ice" their convictions in stone, and thence, grant them perverse power to try to "save" or "convert" others. (No surprise many of these louts were burned or shot, especially when they tried it in Hindu India.) And so they isolated quotes like John 3:16, which we sports fans often see morons holding up at stadiums. They are trying to remind all who might glance their way of the need to get "saved" by a mythical, plagiarized "savior". (The Xtians didn't even have the brains to think up their own original version!)

The whole thing would actually be laughable if it weren’t so pathetic, and one can imagine the ancient founders of Mithraism laughing hilariously from their graves at the gullibility and profound ignorance of modern day Christians that buy this hogswill, that they really are putting their trust in a unique “Savior” and ‘god”.

Did a real historical Jesus exist? According to Oxford scholar Geza Vermes in The Authentic Gospel of Jesus:

“Jesus was an ordinary man, crucified because he clashed with Jewish and Roman leaders and was regarded as a potential threat to law and order “

In other words, one could almost think of him like an ancient JFK, given all the interests he pissed off, although unlike JFK he held no office.  But invoking him to be "saved" would make about as much sense as invoking JFK for the same. Nevertheless, you can be sure the religio-tards will never ever accept this, and they will remain convinced they have the one and only salvation "formula" and woe betide anyone who doesn't accept it - they will pick up a ticket to "Hell". (As Dave's crazed sister warned him).

French philosopher and teacher, Andre Comte-Sponville has a solid take on these Xtian knotheads and pests. I quote his words as follows:

"They mistake their faith for knowledge and are prepared to kill or die in its name. They have no doubts or hesitations. They know everything there is to know about Truth and Goodness....and Salvation. So of what use is Science to them? None. Of what use is democracy?

Everything worth knowing is in "the Book". One need only believe and obey. From Genesis to Revelation they have taken sides once and for all. They are on God's side, so how can they be wrong? Why should they believe in or obey anything else? Fundamentalists, obscurantists and terrorists...but they see themselves as angels, though they behave as beasts and tyrants.

They take themselves for the Knight of the Apocalypse. They are the janissaries of the absolute, which they reduce to the narrow dimensions of their own conscience and perceive as their private property.

They are the prisoners of their faith, slaves of God or of what (with absolutely no proof) they claim to be His Word or Law. Spinoza summed their type up admirably when he said:  "They fight for their servitude as if it were their salvation"

I couldn't have said it better. But one thing we atheists, secularists, skeptics and rationalists will not do is place ourselves in mental or cooperative servitude to those who are already in thrall to their self-created mental chains of  "salvation" delusion and supernatural bunkum!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Yes! The Repubs' 'Fiscal Cliff' Position is Based on the Pareto!

"Assume a collectivity made up of a wolf and a sheep. The happiness of the wolf consists in eating the sheep, that of the sheep in not being eaten. How is this collectivity to be made happy?"
- Vilfredo Pareto

I've been asked repeatedly lately what over-arching paradigm might underpin the Republican position in regards to the dealing over the "fiscal cliff". To bring readers up to speed (especially after the DOW dumped nearly 90 points yesterday) let me summarize:
The Repukes have proclaimed that they are still interested in "raising revenues" as part of a "Grand Bargain". After teasing Obama with the possibility of real increases in tax RATES - as opposed to closing ambiguous loopholes, the Reeps are now dug in and maintain that "revenues would be raised through later tax reform" - and this, btw, is with NO 'trigger' in place to enforce it. And in return for that vague, ambiguous promise of fiscal rectitude they demand:

- The upcoming defense sequestration be cancelled, i.e. no cuts for the Big D

- The age for Medicare eligibility increase to 67, or 68

- And changes be made to Social Security, namely by way of re-calculating its benefits via a lower COLA - to cut them.

Are they fuckin' nuts? Or haven't they seen the results of the just finished election? Do they not see they were the LOSERS? So how can they insinuate that THEIR plans to carve out social insurance benefits are the ones the voters chose?

As a separate issue, these fuckers want to address the debt ceiling issue separately, or translation: they want to have the power - as they did last year- to send this country hurtling over a REAL cliff of default! This time, however, Obama appears to possess the stones to not let these knuckle-dragging morons roll him in a back alley - like he did last year. Sometimes it takes time for Dems to grow a spine, what can I say?

Okay, now where does this come from? Some may say partly from adhering to Grover Norquist's no tax increase "pledge" and they may be right. But a more fundamental basis is to impose the Pareto Distribution of resources across the land. To refresh readers' minds, Vilfredo Pareto is the one who basically put forward the Pareto distribution, and also the form of economic efficiency known as Pareto efficiency.

The basic insights may be derived from the Cumulative form of the Pareto distribution which is shown in the graphic. Basically, we are graphing "utils" or nominal units of "utility" on the vertical axis, vs. value of dollars used or consumed along the horizontal. The curves are displayed for two populations, one "rich" (say earning in the top 1% or $340,000/yr.) and the other "poor" (earning about $14,000/yr.). The key aspect to note is the width corresponding to the "delta x" portion of the gradient (delta U over delta x) which translates into the net dollar's worth for each population. As readers can see from inspection, the width of $1 for the rich is significantly longer than the one for the poor. This translates into the argument that the buck is worth more to the rich man, and hence, any transfer from the rich to the poor hurts the rich more than it helps the poor (especially as the 'utils' for the poor man is also rather smaller by comparison).

Thus, by Pareto's original example (in quotes): Allowing the wolf in the wolf-sheep collective to EAT the sheep expresses less overall "hurt" or pain on it than permitting the sheep to remain unscathed, thereby merrily prancing away eating its grass while the poor wolf starves. Of course, let me hasten to add here, that nowhere is Pareto's original quote on the wolf-sheep combo given in any standard university economics texts. God forbid any students draw the wrong conclusion and infer that modern economics is consigning the poor to be sheep for the rich wolves. But, as a matter of fact, that's fairly close to the truth!

To sum things up in a crude nutshell: Applying the Pareto model for efficiency ensures that money will be circulated and spent by the highest quality producers and generators. This was subsequently imbibed by Arch Capitalist Milton Friedman of the "Chicago School" of economics as Naomi Klein notes in her book, The Shock Doctrine. As she notes (p. 68), Friedman asserted (in his book  ‘Capitalism and Freedom’ ) that "everything went wrong with the New Deal".

To Friedman all government social protections that were unearned, either from speculation in the markets or protracted hard work, had to be negated. Also, any gov't based medical programs like Medicare needed to be outsourced to corporations or the private sector. No one could have any "handouts" ...whatsoever, and oh, by the way, the minimum wage had to be abolished as well! (Workers could then individually compete for the best wages based on innate talents) As Klein further noted (p. 70): Friedman's tracts "though cloaked in the language of math and science" were in fact being passed on from multinationals and corporate interests with a lot at stake. Hello, serfs, meet the new Overlords!

Social Security payments? They pour more money into the economy, but not via real time productive labor or market indices, returns. People receive their checks merely by existing and breathing day to day, and having paid into the system with FICA deductions. Even then, they receive far more in benefits than actually paid in, making a total mess of "utils" earned. In a way, the Social security recipient (in the eyes of this Pareto-riguer bunch) are like the rent subsidized couple with their "consumer surplus". Worse, the S.S. COLAs increase the non-productive payments each year, one reason why – back in 1997 –  Alan Greenspan demanded an artificially much lower COLA increase than had originally been proposed.

No surprise that this COLA is exactly what the Reeps are proposing now. It is also fueled by propaganda put out by assheads and morons like Lloyd Blankfein, who on CSB news recently made the remark we "can't afford people living off of entitlements for 30 plus years." This slimey bankster rat lied and fortunately Ed Schultz corrected the slimeball on a subsequent show, noting the average American worker lives roughly 16.3 years depending on Social Security!  This during a period when medical costs are likely to explode, as well as the likelihood of being in a nursing home.

So what alternative does the Pareto Distribution demand and which Repukes are secretly pushing? Easy! Removing the money allotted from Social Security will force oldsters to gamble in a risky stock market casino in which we now know flash trading and fractional stock taking dominates (subject of a future blog) and the little guy suffers. Even as Boehner and McConnell wheel and deal, Maul Street's unscrupulous money managers salivate like Pavlovian dogs over reaping major rewards for themselves via deceptive fees. With a growing population of elderly Americans afflicted by Alzheimer’s, the fine-print artists peddling deceptive retirement products will have a field day. THIS is what the Reeps are bargaining for!

Make no mistake here that though the well-funded campaign to partly privatize Social Security under George W. Bush (in 2005)  failed, the same forces are at it again using the "fiscal cliff" BS as a leverage point. Now, they want to achieve the same result indirectly, by getting Obama and enough conservative Democrats in Congress (kowns as DINOS) , along with the GOP, to cut Social Security. Their manifest objective is to comply with every Fed Chairman's wet dream and compel Americans to try to make up the losses in public benefits by gambling more with their savings in mutual funds ( from which hefty profits will be skimmed by overpaid money managers.)  Wall Street will then become even richer than it now is relative to Main Street, as the Pareto Pirates gloat.

This we cannot allow! Every sensate being in the nation needs to keep on his reps' butts and make sure they do the right thing. If you have a weakling or wavering wimp, be sure to tell it like it is and assert that (far from cutting anything) we need to expand the stable, efficient, low-overhead public part of America’s retirement security system — Social Security. 

Meanwhile, we pare back on the risky alternatives like 401ks wherein workers must fend for themselves. (The other alternative is to provide a government "match" - for every dollar saved, i.e. in a money market or fixed income fund,  and not lost in a 401k via speculating).

Meanwhile, any reinforcements or added steps we do have to make to Social Security and Medicare, to ensure their integrity,  can be made independently next year. This would be after the fiscal cliff hysteria has passed and the Reepos can no longer exploit it for their own ends. Let us not be held hostage to the Reeps' alleged guns now, as we were last year with their disreputable debt ceiling brinksmanship!

One last point: I disagree with Obama barnstorming around the country and asking the Middle class to complain to reps about losing up to $2200 a year or more if the fiscal cliff is hit without Repups cooperating. To me this plays into the Reeps' hands and uses unnecessary scare-mongering. Hence, I agree with Robert Reich's take in today:

"So rather than stoking middle-class fears about this, the White House ought to be doing the opposite – reassuring most Americans they can survive the fall. In fact, to use his trump card effectively, Obama needs to convince Republicans that the middle class is willing to jump over the cliff."

Indeed, and for my money, the fact Americans could afford to splurge to the tune of some $55 BILLION on 'Black Friday' and "Cyber Monday" shows me they have disposable income to survive the "fall". In addition, the scare mongering sets liberals nerves on edge because it implies Obama & Co. might teeter over if the standoff is protracted. Keep the stiff upper lip, Mr. Prez. And understand that if going over this "cliff" is what we must do to finally get actual tax rate hikes on the rich, they we do it. And we LOVE doing it! Why? Because it'll make the Repukes (and that turd Grover Norquist) puke!

Angus T. Jones: Another Christian Ingrate!

Angus T. Jones, left, having been harnessed via "baptism" by 7th Day Christers, dumps on 'Two and A Half Men' as "filth" on The Forerunner Chronicles Youtube channel. Maybe the little punk needs to do us all a favor and leave the show if he hates it so much!

Like certain unnamed relations who take, as in TAKE, e.g. money….but offer no appreciation or gratitude in return (biting the hand of the giver), we’ve now beheld the similar case of Angus T. Jones – the young sprat (e.g. the ‘half’) on ’Two and a Half Men’, who had fans doing a double take after he blasted the show as “filth” in a viral Youtube rant for a Seventh Day Adventist outfit.

In his rant, Jones said:

“Please stop watching Two and a Half Men! I’m on Two and a Half Men, and I don’t want to be on it! Please stop watching it! Please stop doing your head with filth!”

Is this punk serious? Has he got any brains or sense? He’s receiving $350k per episode when most people in this country are barely able to compile that much money by saving over a lifetime. Hence, it’s more than most Americans save in a nest egg to live off in retirement! And he spits on his opportunity? He says he “doesn’t want to be on it”! Well, I’m sure there are thousands of unemployed actors right now who’d do anything for the chance!

How about being gracious, young Padewan? How about showing APPRECIATION instead of spitting on the hands of those who have provided you with a precious opportunity to earn a living outside of slinging burgers at Mickey D’s? But this seems to be a recurring trait with many of these “Christians” who I believe, spit on their gifts, assistance or help because they don’t believe it comes directly from another human ---- but some imagined man in the sky! Hence, they feel they can with impunity TAKE the gift, or pay, or help…then spit back into the face of the giver!

At least in the case of Jones, after much blowback he eventually found enough voice to recant somewhat – though he didn’t take back what he already said. He released a statement yesterday saying:

“I apologize if my remarks reflect me showing indifference to and disrespect of my colleagues and a lack of appreciation of the extraordinary opportunity of which I have been blessed. “

The above, in concert with his refusal to retract his earlier slamming the show as “filth” confirms my suspicion that young Jones believes his “extraordinary opportunity” comes from the divine as opposed to the creators and producers, and CBS! Note for example, his use of the phrase “of which I have been BLESSED” – not “of which I have been given”. This elicits the question:

How is it you reckon you can be ‘blessed’ with ‘filth’ ?”

Jones made his rant in a “testimonial- after being baptized this year as a Seventh Dayer- for ‘The Forerunner Chronicles’- a religious website and Youtube channel. In that testimonial he asserted:

“Oh some say you can still be a Christian and be on Two and a Half Men. No you can’t. You can’t be a god—fearing person and be on a television show like that.”

Oh really? Then here’s what you need to do, Angus: You need to QUIT the show forthwith, and further – return all the money you took from it since after all, you dissed the show as “filth” and averred a ‘real Christian’ can’t be such and be a part of it! If you don’t do that you’re a HYPOCRITE! But then we know, among the self –righteous Xtians, hypocrisy is a recurring syndrome.

If Jones can't bring himself to follow his "Christian" principles and leave the show by which he's enriched himself, maybe CBS can do it for him!

Here’s another idea: Given the secessionist movement has now reached 1 million signatures maybe we can pile in all the wannabe Rebs into Tex-ASS with all the self-righteous, hypocrite Christians. Then they can all have at it, and even ….make their own TV shows (say to Angus' elevated moral standards), as they will have to create their own pension plans, medical insurance programs and everything else. The pseudo- Christian takers and Secessionist fakers, deserve each other! Hypocrites and traitors, a perfect match in a Tex-ASS Christian Repub- lic!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

BEWARE! Of Sexual Congress with Succubi!

Top - the circle of Hell reserved for male humans who had intercourse with succubi. Bottom: Adam's first wife "Lilith" who later metamorphosed into a demonic succubus, as depicted (1892) by artist John Collier.

We have to hand it to Dante, in his 'Inferno',  for imagining a truly variegated "Hell" that wasn't merely reduced to the cartoonish offal of endless fires or burning souls. Anyone with a grain of sense knows that these are impossible anyway, and all the astronomical abodes that harbor ferocious heat (e.g. the type O, and B stars) aren't eternal. Most burn themselves out after a few million years.

Instead of unending "fires" which are impossible and imply numerous metaphysical problems (including defining the differences between "spiritual fire" and physical fire), Dante invoked and created subtle forms of eternal torments peculiar to the violations of the damned. For example, in the 2nd Circle of Hell we find those condemned for their lust, "the carnal malefactors"- for letting their raw carnal appetites subdue their reason. They're the first ones to be truly punished in Hell. (The First Circle is not truly a punishment level but rather "Limbo" - for all unbaptized infants. Not even Dante could imagine them being sent to eternal perdition!) The souls of the lust -ridden are blown about to and fro by the ferocious winds of a violent storm, without hope of rest. This symbolized the power of lust to blow one about needlessly and aimlessly.

For some who think this tame compared to fires, think again! Imagine yourself trapped in a wind tunnel, unable to seize one moment, one second of rest or respite. The subtext of Dante was that one doesn't need the most horrific or even painful punishment to confer absolute grief and horror - only a grinding one that never ends. IN the worst of these cyclones, which includes repetitive "demon rape", a new brew of Xtian knotheads have evidently included all those forlorn human males that have had congress with succubi and hence, ended up "gay".  (Where do these asswipes come up with these ideas?)

But anyway, those of sound mind (i.e. no fundagelical psychosis) are fully aware that  the reigning scientific consensus on sexual orientation is that it’s an inherited, biological trait. Hence, one doesn't "choose" to be gay, rather it's dictated in their DNA, genes, as much as temperament or being short. Do we accuse the stature- challenged of consorting with demons? Of course not!

But alas, a Christian magazine called 'Charisma, seems to have conducted its own investigation into the origins of homosexuality to reveal the real culprit: sex with demons! (Example: Adam's 1st wife Lilith  depicted with her Satanic serpent, who then became a succubus). The mag asks, seriously:

“Can demons engage in sexual behaviors with humans?”

The answer? YES! At least according to the article’s primary source, a former stripper-turned-ministry leader named Contessa Adams. Adams shares her decades-long struggle with demon sex, sparing no horrible, sexy detail. She thus refers to her book Consequences, and asserts they often prey on people by performing sexual acts through nightmares and erotic dreams. Some people become so dependent upon these demonic experiences that they actually look forward to them.

The two most identifiable sexual demons, which btw can inhabit sex toys according to the fundies - are the incubi (which go after females, hence likely found in dildoes....sorry, Mitch McConnell!) or succubi, the Lilith type which men are warned can be harbored in assorted "vaginal" toys. Men who use these contraptions are therefore directly at risk of succubi possession....and to hear or see Contessa Adams tell it, end up having their sexual orientation altered.

Apart from Contessa's raunch, probably the most powerful impetus to searing succubi sexual antics - and necessary searches - was the Malleus Maleficarum of Heinrich Kramer (Dean of Cologne University) and Jacob Sprenger (Dominican Inquisitor General of Germany). This was the book which gave the prescriptions for exposing those possessed, or under the influence of familiars or succubi, incubi) . This was under a Bull issued by Pope Innocent VIII.

Females suspected of incubus congress caught holy hell for sure, with tortures that would make most people have prolonged nightmares - including stuffing hot coals into the pudenda and ripping out the labia. Males, for their part did not entirely escape suspicion either. Espousing atheist or heretic tracts or opinions was certain to earn the purveyor a seat before the Inquisitors. From there, it was usually a short step to accusing them of either being warlocks, or if no evidence for that was obtained, then at least having intercourse with succubi. (Today, the succubi hunters going door to door would round up any men in possession of sexual toys, like artificial vaginas.) According to Charisma magazine, demons aren’t just about getting laid. They’re wreaking havoc all over the place, in addition to the mischief they’ve wrought on confused Christian genitalia. (And to hear some "pastors" tell it, using atheists to add to the mayhem)

Now, according to Sprenger and Kramer (M.M., pp. 26-27) Succubi were demonic entities that assumed the form of a beautiful woman (like Lilith). Once the entity made contact with human semen or collected it i.e. at night, it became possible for it to engender demonic babies. Demon manpower became a metaphysical issue since it was originally believed each human had to have a specific demonic tempter, as well as a "tormenter" if consigned to Hell. Since thousands of humans died each hour, and most were believed to have gone to Hell, and only 2,000 original Demons existed - the need for extra hands was clear.

The authors manifested a vigorous take on doubters (p. 27) when they note:

“In spite of the contention of some that devils in bodily shape can in no way generate children, ….it cannot be altogether false according to Aristotle in his 6th Ethics, and at the end of the de Somno et Uigilia”

Here we have a first hint of the concept of demon reproduction in order to keep up with the expanding human populace- especially the portion destined for Hell. Obviously, if the world began with only 2,000 demons, imps and Devils, they would never be able to keep up with the temptation burden as the human population increased to hundreds of millions then billions.

If, for example, the demonic hierarchy population stayed fixed at 2,000 then it follows that when the human population hit 6 billion each demon would have 3 million humans (each) to try to tempt into a Hell bound act each day – by dividing the labor equally. Given a uniform load, each demon would only have about 0.028 seconds per day for a Hell bound temptation. This isn’t even enough time for a demon to fart. Thus, a way had to be found to increase the demon population.

But I digress......

According to the witch hunters (M.M. p. 27)

“because succubi can work transmutations in semen”

Then human semen was all the evidence the Inquisitors needed to marshal circumstantial evidence for the human male having had intercourse to bring demonic babies to life. The next step merely entailed finding a mark that a succubus may have left. This entailed using an extended 4" long needle which was jabbed into the suspect's penis or testicles. Suspicion immediately fell if one spot was located that didn't elicit pain response.

From there, and especially if there was resistance, it was but a small step to the major torture or execution, usually the Iron Maiden. The device (in the shape of a large, i.e. heavyset  "maiden", about 6' by 3' by 3') featured two doors which could be opened to enable the victim to be put inside. The whole interior was fitted with long, iron spikes so that when the doors were closed, the spikes were driven into various parts of the victim’s body. Generally, two entered his eyes, others pierced his back, chest and abdomen and impaled him in such a way that he didn’t die at once but in a lingering agony. When death finally relieved the poor wretch of his agonies, a trap door opened to allow the body to drop into the water below.

Readers will be delighted to know that today, the primary demon fighter establishment is "the New Apostolic Reformation"  (NAR), a global network of Charismatic Christian ministries devoted to Dominionism, the idea that they must take over public institutions in order to save America and the world from … demons (and gays, of course). NAR is ridiculous, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t powerful, with millions of followers worldwide and domestic and international political relationships ranging from Senator Sam Brownback, Mike Huckabee and Newt Gingrich.

One reason for promoting the "fiscal cliff" nonsense, is to yank people - citizens off of Social Security and Medicare so they will have to fend for themselves in terms of health and financial security. It has been thus believed - from the days of Rev. Josiah Strong- that such "dependencies" are avenues to the demonic hordes and must be halted. The Repukes who now sputter on about "revenue increases" to avoid the fiscal cliff are merely using a long time ruse whereby they don't mean a true increase in tax rates ....but closing loopholes and deductions. I imagine these assholes figure the demonic hordes would more properly countenance the latter than true tax rate increases, say back to the Clinton era of 39.6%

For myself, I am glad as hell I don't have to worry about encountering any succubi! Since the high dose radiation treatment I received for prostate cancer has essentially eliminated all semen....there's no reason any succubi like Lilith would come skulking around to force me into making demonic babies!

As for the NAR and other looney tune demonic mongers, the sooner we can get them into massive ECT treatments, the better!

Can Americans Distinguish Conspiracy from Conspiracy Theory?

"How do we know that our own rational rejections of conspiracy theories are not themselves infected with beliefs so strong that they are, in effect, conspiracy theories too?"

- Matt Ridley in 'Maybe We're All Conspiracy Theorists', The Wall Street Journal, Sept. 10-11, 2011

“Those who suffer from conspiracy phobia are fond of saying: 'Do you actually think there's a group of people sitting around in a room, plotting things?' For some reason that image is assumed to be so patently absurd as to invite only disclaimers. But where else would people of power get together - on park benches or carousels?"
-Michael Parenti in 'Dirty Truths', p. 174

Five days ago the 49th anniversary of the Kennedy assassination transpired but it coincided with Thanksgiving Day, hence was not met with much fanfare or recognition. Don't look for this to be the case next year, as we reach the 50th anniversary and every minor airwave, TV or talk radio spot will be dominated by endless discussion of the event and oh by the way: 'How come 70% or more of the American public still believe it was a conspiracy and dismiss The Warren Commission?' You can be sure talking head Tom Brokaw (now more a fossil but still out there!), who's already blown "the greatest generation" into a cultural mythology, will make much of this fact, including claiming the "evidence doesn't support it". Don't mind Tom! Or Tom Hanks, planning a 13-part HBO series to convince the American people that they've been "snookered" into believing the conspiracy meme. Both are part of the same disavowal-denial  matrix that's been almost continuously in operation for the past 40 years.

All of which elicits the question of how we may discriminate between a genuine conspiracy and a 'conspiracy theory' - which is the generic putdown pushed by the hacks and blow dried bozos of the corporate media, to attempt to undermine any conviction that actual conspiracies unfold in this country. We are instead governed by the 'conspiracy school' of Milton Friedman laissez-faire economics, i.e. that they're all "individualist" or "lone nut" freelance efforts, as opposed to a collaboration between interested parties with a decided agenda. Further, in the case of any real murderous conspiracy (such as the JFK assassination) it's abundantly obvious that two levels had to unfold in sequence: 1) the executive action itself - removing a head of state who'd become an impediment to the banking-intelligence- military axis, and 2)  the cover up of  (1) by any means necessary and for as long as required before the ultimate ends of the conspirators' agenda were achieved.

Note above I said 'conspirators' agenda' not conspirators, who may well all be dead by now.

This is all relevant since Charles P. Pierce, in his book 'Idiot America: How Stupidity Became a Virtue in the Land of the Free'  (2010)brings up this very point (Chapter Four, 'The Templars in Texas', p. 81) , as he notes:

“No matter what the polls indicate, the reality is that we have kept the Kennedy assassination as a conspiracy theory, rather than accepting it as an actual conspiracy. Once we believe in the latter, it becomes a deadening weight on the conscience.”

 Indeed.  But how or why so? First note that he writes this after committing one of the foremost blunders one can, in respect to the assassination aftermath - but quite understandable! That is, his statement that (previous page) "the official U.S. government report (the Warren Commission) into the public murder of the president has rather less credibility than 'the Epic of Gilgamesh' with the American people."

The blunder is the claim that the Warren Commission's report was an "official government report". No, it was not! It integrated discrete aspects of government, via agencies (e.g. FBI, CIA, Secret Service etc.)  given  varied degrees of power in determining what was and what was not evidence, and who or who would not be called as witnesses (200 material witnesses were omitted, according to special Justice Dept. agent Walt Brown) but it was not an "offiical government" organ. The Warren Commission itself was the creature of Lyndon B. Johnson, and indeed, represented the fallback entity once Johnson's originally proposed "Texas Commission" was rejected.

Never mind! LBJ assigned the same personae he'd wanted on the earlier mutation, including J. Edgar Hoover - who despised JFK, and Allan Dulles (fired by JFK from the CIA after the Bay of Pigs).  The Report then, was not any official gov't report but an artifical political construct intended to deflect attention to any deeper questions via the use of a whitewash. I already went over the reasons for that in the earlier blog on Bill O'Reilly's new book on the assassination, and in the link therein.

Second, let us note that - while not necessarily au fait with all aspects of the JFK assassination and its aftermath, most Americans exposed to them even in cursory fashion would have regarded the Warren fabrication as an insult to their intellects. I mean, "the magic bullet" making 7 wounds in 2 men and emerging pristine on a hospital stretcher at Parkland? C'mon! The bullet-pocked limo being disassembled then dispatched to OH? The brain disappearing between Parkland in Dallas, and Bethesda?  An alleged assassin's rifle (6.5 mm Mannlicher-Carcano) which had to be substituted for to try to replicate the alleged shots? How many 'coincidences' have to occur before people are given credit for some basic common sense?

Then Pierce goes on to write (ibid.):

"The revelation of an actual conspiracy- the Iran -Contra matter- has come to have a rather deadening effect on American politics and culture. It runs through stages. There is disbelief.  Then the whole thing dies in banality. It's too hard to understand..."

True, but why hold that against the American people? (He goes on to state that Iran -Contra "ought to have immunized the American public against wishful, fact free adventurism in the Middle East"...a la the bogus basis for the Iraq invasion and occupation. )

The fact is most people don't have the deep politics savvy, time or inclination to dig very deeply into anything that isn't fairly clear or obvious! (Like a glaring head shot in the center of a major U.S. city!)  I don't necessarily hold this against them, because I understand and grasp that not all citizens have had the fortuitious time allotment and resources I've had to pursue these things. Including Iran -contra, which basis I showed in a previous blog, e.g.

The main thing to bear in mind amidst whatever conspiracy is proferred, is the definition - compliments of my 1,500 page Webster's:

A treacherous, surreptitious plan formulated in secret by two or more persons”

Let's also be clear that in many true conspiracies, as in the case of many complex financial instruments (e.g. variable annuities), the architects have ensured the complexity is such that most citizens will give up in pursuit of the truth after a fairly short time. They lack the energy, time or resources to spend more than a few hours a week on the conspiracy or event, if that! In addition, in events like the JFK assassination (as Winn Schwartau has pointed out in his book, Information Warfare') misinformationists have had their hands all over it, muddying the waters by the mega-gallons. Thus, we've seen garbage injected like "Castro killed Kennedy" by hacks like Brian Latell, or other nonsense. It takes a dogged personality with single -minded determination to wade through most of the crap and especially ...separate signal from noise!

Thus, Michael Shermer's claim (in his book 'The Believing Brain' ) that:

"Conspiracy theories are usually bunk when they are too complex, require too many people to be involved, ratchet up from small events to grand effects, assign portentous meanings to innocuous events, express strong suspicions of either governments or companies, or attribute too much power to individuals".

Must be treated with deep suspicion. In the case of the BCCI banking conspiracy, since it entailed moving money to thousands of "dummy accounts" all over the world, the complexity was implicit. In fact, reams of evidence were culled from that criminal bank's operations in 73 countries and exposed. But whether anyone could comprehend all aspects of its workings - which were deliberately rendered complex- is another matter.

This brings up another mistaken assumption of Shermer's: that "Ockham's Razor" (i.e. the simplest explanation for something is almost always the correct one) applies equally to conspiracies as it does to explaining natural phenomena, like lightning or solar flares. This assumes that the non-conspiracy model will always be correct because it is 'simpler'. This is almost invariably true in the realm of natural sciences, such as physics, but it is dubious that this can be applied to the realm of human affairs.

For one thing, humans are enmeshed in complexes of emotions and ideological agendas that can't be quantified like Newton's laws of motion, or simplistically reduced to one cause-one effect relationships. In addition, humans - unlike natural laws -are capable of deceit and misdirection. So, from many points of view, it would be foolhardy to reduce the realm of human behavior - including conspiracy - to the model applicable to simple natural laws. It would require something basically approaching a general denial that humans would or could ever act with duplicity. Which is nonsense.

By contrast, it is clear that misdirection (including interjection of misinformation at key times) would have to be a fundamental part of any successful conspiracy.

This complexity false assumption also colors Shermer's other one of "too many people involved". But this is basically an absurd and artificial complaint or criterion if the number is exactly that needed to succeed! For example, if 55 individuals were needed to make the JFK assassination succeed, then who's to say that was "too many"? In relation to what, exactly? Yes, it sounds like a lot, but not if the objective was to change the course of U.S. history - which it did! Had JFK lived the Vietnam War would never have been fought since his National Security Action Memorandum 263 planned a pullout of all U.S. personnel by 1965. (As per Freedom of Information released documents, ca. 1997)

If, 1,100 were needed for the BCCI banking conspiracy to succeed ( as it did for years!) then who is to say that was "too many"? I mean we're talking about a criminal bank with its paws in 73 countries, for god's sakes! By the same token, if 400 people were needed for the Iran-Contra conspiracy to succeed, e.g. double dealing with the U.S.- backed Contras in Nicaragua and the Iranians at the same time to funnel arms from the latter to the Contras, in violation of the Boland Amendment,  then who is to say it is "too many"?

In the end, Shermer's criteria comes off as uninformed (i.e. in the context of most of the serious conspiracies proven so) and cartoonish. About what I'd expect of a third former physics student who thinks he's invented a "rocket ship" but only has a balsa wood model and it doesn't even operate properly.

Shermer's last remark is especially choice: "express strong suspicions of either governments or companies, or attribute too much power to individuals"

Huh? Is he serious?

So, by Shermer's cartoonish criteria, The Washington Post's Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein ought to never have been suspicious of the Watergate break-in and the role of Nixon's government? Had that been the case, the Watergate conspiracy would never have been exposed, and Nixon would never have been forced from office! So much for that one!

What about companies? Is Shermer's memory THAT short? Can he not recall a certain Houston company called ENRON in 2001, which set up hundreds of dummy accounts in the Caribbean and used them to funnel money to, and at the same time kept other liabilities off its U.S. books to fool shareholders? More than 21,000 Enron employees who'd been duped into buying its shares- while Kenny Lay and his cohort profited- paid the price.

As for author Charles P. Pierce, incredibly - though he appears to short change those who accept the JFK assassination as genuine- he yet concedes (p. 79):  that conspiracies of every sort embedded themselves in the Kennedy years ("a fertile time for conspiracy".) He even notes the 'Operation Northwoods' conspiracy by the Joint Chiefs (p. 80) which is nevertheless valid though it never materialized.  Thank goodness!  As Michael Parenti (op. cit.) has noted, in our debased media culture if the claimed conspiracy hasn’t been validated to officialdom's satisfaction, it’s merely a theory - which they erroneously equate with speculation.  But if it was validated, as in Iran-Contra, then ‘Voila!’ it’s no longer theory but an actuality... a FACT!  But this is essential nonsense! As Parenti observes, it means that “conspiracy can never be proven and if proven it can’t be conspiracy”.

Anyway, my takeaway point here is that if  'Northwoods' is acknowledged, even hyperbolically, and it meant the top generals wanted to off American citizens using terror bombings and mass shootings - then surely a plan to kill the American head of state isn't that far behind in terms of credibility! (Pierce puckishly refers - p. 81- to Kennedy being believed to have been "shot from a storm drain below the street level" at Dealey Plaza,  but this is a straw man. No serious researcher accepts it, especially after D.B. Thomas' paper in the journal Science and Justice (Vol. 41, p. 21, 2001) precisely correlating echoes- propagation distances from impulse profiles to a location at the edge of the grassy knoll.)

Finally, thanks to a humble audio and visual aids specialist-  Lt. Commander William Bruce Pitzer - based in the mid-1960s at the National Medical Naval Center at Bethesda, we have the first hand evidence via actual and forged autopsy photos that we've all been had.  We have the evidence in black and white that the Kennedy assassination was a definite conspiracy - as the ONLY true government investigation (the House Select Committee on Assassinations or HSCA) determined in its 1979 conclusions with "95% probability".

Though Pitzer was himself assassinated- likely by a mechanic out of the Special Warfare Center at Ft. Bragg, NC (they attempted to make it look like a suicide, but Pitzer had everything to live for he believed exposing the fraudulent photos would earn him fame and money) the pairs of photos did get out. As my German friend Kurt Braun put it in 1978, "Pitzer made certain he had slide copies made of the forged and true autopsy photos and provided the information to access them in the event of his demise".  

Pitzer never lived to expose the "unspeakable" fraud perpetrated upon all of us (after the book title, JFK and the Unspeakable: Why He Died and Why It Matters by James Douglass) but we now know that - like Iran -Contra, conspiracy in the Kennedy Assassination was real. According to author Charles P. Pierce, if accepted as such then it "imposes a deadening weight on the conscience" and hence "accepting it as a reality means we are obligated to do something about it."  I have and will, in the form of trying to educate Americans how and why this event continues to impact our policies, politics today!