Here we sit on the precipice of a grand realignment of history, society and culture in the image of the new order of common sense government that seeks to cast aside the trappings of backwards for-profit mindsets and yet again we are forced to endure the incoherent ramblings of the simple-minded who seek to derail this overdue progression.
Instead of thoughtful policy discussions, we will now be treated to an endless parade of government boogeymen and convoluted conspiracies brought on only in an effort to discredit an honorable and trustworthy administration, run by a renowned Constitutional law professor and respected Nobel Prize winner.
Let us dispense with trivial formalities. The slack-jawed logic of the perpetually offended will never seek to understand the internal flaws inherent to the human soul. The alleged failure of the I.R.S. to consistently apply their fair standards was nothing more than the failure of a system designed by men. The government is made up of men, and therefore is subject to the same defects. This is not an indictment of government itself; this is an indictment of those who fail to recognize the collective good of advancing a streamlined and progressive government.
So, who is ultimately to blame? Perhaps if you’re honest with yourself, you’ll look deeper into the depths of your heart and you will recognize the brutal truth.
This is your fault. For shame.
John Ekdahl, Jr. “The New Yorker‘s @JeffreyToobin: Did the I.R.S. Do Anything Wrong?”, Ace of Spades H.Q., 2013-05-16
May 16, 2013
May 5, 2013
Strategy Page looks at some of the widely held beliefs in some Islamic countries:
… in most countries where there is a dominant religion, especially a state approved one, there is usually still a fear that the previous religion (or religions) will try to make a comeback. The former faiths often involved some really old-school stuff, including magic and sometimes animal, or even human, sacrifice. It is not uncommon for there to be civil laws covering those accused to be practicing such sorcery, and severe punishments for those convicted. At the very least, the accused will be driven from any senior government jobs they might hold, and that’s what’s being done to dozens of Ahmadinejad associates.
All cultures have a certain belief in magic and what Westerners call “conspiracy theories” to explain otherwise unexplainable events. In the Islamic world, there is a lot of attention paid to sorcery and magic, and people accused of practicing such things are regularly attacked and sometimes executed. Conspiracy theories are also a popular way to explain away inconvenient facts.
For example, back in 2008 many Pakistanis believed that the then recent Islamic terrorist attack in Mumbai, India was actually the work of the Israeli Mossad or the American CIA and not the Pakistani terrorists who were killed or captured and identified. Such fantasies are a common explanation, in Moslem nations, for Islamic terrorist atrocities. Especially when women and children, and Moslems, are among the victims, other Moslems tend to accept fantastic explanations shifting the blame to infidels (non-Moslems).
[. . .]
American troops arriving in Iraq after 2003 went through a real culture shock as they encountered these cultural differences. They also discovered that the cause of this, and many other Arab problems, is the concept of “inshallah” (“If God wills it.”) This is a basic tenet of Islam, although some scholars believe the attitude was a cultural trait that preceded Islam. In any event, “inshallah” is deadly when combined with modern technology. For this reason, Arab countries either have poorly maintained infrastructure and equipment (including military stuff), or import a lot of foreigners, possessing the right attitudes, to maintain everything. That minority of Arabs who do have a realistic attitude towards maintenance and personal responsibility are considered odd, but useful.
The “inshallah” thing is made worse by a stronger belief in the supernatural, and magic in general. This often extends to technology. Thus many Iraqis believed that American troops wore sunglasses that enabled them to see through clothing, and armor vests that were actually air conditioned. When they first encounter these beliefs, U.S. troops thought the Arabs are putting them on. Then it sinks in that Arabs really believe this stuff. It’s a scary moment.
April 16, 2013
Right now, I could write segments on the idiot comments made by the usual suspects … but do you really need another piece of evidence to support the argument that, say, Cynthia McKinney is a lunatic? [...] I can’t get all that revved up about it. She is what she is. If you really put much stock in her judgment of what’s “the real story” behind a horrific news event, theories that hear this awful news and immediately jump to elaborate theories of “false flag” operations and the notion that our local and federal law-enforcement ranks are full of men and women willing to set bombs and blow up children in order to score some sort of propaganda victory … well, then I doubt there’s anything anyone can say to dissuade you of that vast worldview you’ve constructed within your mind.
The conspiracy theorist is only a couple of steps away from the person who — often on Twitter — begins discussing who was behind it with way too much certainty. As I said on Twitter yesterday, I suspect that speculation, unhelpful as it is, is a coping mechanism: People attempt to make a sudden unexpected horror fit into pattern of known facts. If we can figure out who did it, we can find someone to feel anger and rage towards and, for some people, that’s a much easier emotion to deal with than shock, horror, fear, and sorrow.
The all-too-confident speculator is only a few steps away from the ordinarily knowledgeable terrorism expert or pundit yanked into a television studio at a moment’s notice and asked to speak, extemporaneously, about what could be behind these awful events based on nothing more than initial reports and the most horrific of images playing on a monitor just beyond the camera.
Jim Geraghty, “The Morning Jolt”, 2013-04-16
April 15, 2013
In the Globe and Mail Tabatha Southey hears the laments of readers “We need a new John Steinbeck for the Great Bitcoin Depression”, and she delivers:
Pa was a simple man, a techno-anarchist by trade, and long after the Bitcoin bust, he stayed on with the mining. “Don’t know nothin’ else,” Ma said, although she once suggested migrant IT work, at least until her own contract was renewed at the hospital where she worked most of her grown days for a pediatric endocrinologist’s wage.
Pa sat on the sofa, the whir of the computer fans all but drowning out the Cato Institute podcast he’d downloaded the night before. He’s there, frozen in my childhood, Pa, mining, mining, mining, with nothing but his iPhone, his laptop and, for a while, my sister’s old Tamagotchi, which he found in the couch cushions while looking for the remote, to amuse him.
Dodging viruses like crop-dusters, Pa is experiencing hard times. He never did come to trust that ol’ anti-virus software. Said it was reporting on him to the Federal Reserve. And always the dust, the dust, the dust, which may have been because Pa never did get round to changing the furnace filters. His time, he said, best spent elsewhere.
Pa, oh, Pa. He never did stop spreading the word of Ron Paul on completely unrelated news items.
April 4, 2013
In case you’re curious: The Paul-is-dead theory is reportedly embraced by 5 percent of the population — far less, no doubt, than believed it in 1968, though you might expect all those mediocre solo albums to make the theory more popular rather than less. The Icke/Slitheen thesis about reptilian overlords was endorsed by 4 percent of the country. I figure a bunch of those “yes” answers were only trolling, but some of the “no” answers surely came from people who just DIDN’T WANT THE LIZARD MEN TO KNOW THEY WERE ONTO THEM, so let’s call it a wash.
Jesse Walker, footnote to “Paul-Is-Dead Cover-Up Fools 95 Percent of America”, Hit and Run, 2013-04-03
March 21, 2013
In short, they don’t believe it’s mere ham-handedness, arrogance, and incompetence — they think it’s only supposed to look that way:
It’s instructive to view ourselves through a Russian mirror. The term “paranoid Russian” is a pleonasm. “The fact is that all Russian politicians are clever. The stupid ones are all dead. By contrast, America in its complacency promotes dullards. A deadly miscommunication arises from this asymmetry. The Russians cannot believe that the Americans are as stupid as they look, and conclude that Washington wants to destroy them,” I wrote in 2008 under the title “Americans play monopoly, Russians chess.” Russians have dominated chess most of the past century, for good reason: it is the ultimate exercise in paranoia. All the pieces on the board are guided by a single combative mind, and every move is significant. In the real world, human beings flail and blunder. For Russian officials who climbed the greasy pole in the intelligence services, mistakes are unthinkable, for those who made mistakes are long since buried.
From a paranoid perspective, it certainly might look as if Washington planned to unleash chaos. The wave of instability spreading through the Middle East from Syria is the direct result of American actions. [. . .]
If the Russians sound mad, consider this: there is another substantial body of opinion that sees an evil conspiracy behind American blundering in the Middle East, and it votes for Ron Paul and Rand Paul. I am not suggesting that Sen. Rand Paul is a paranoid, I hasten to clarify: I have never met the man and don’t presume to judge his state of mind. But his popularity stems in no small measure from conspiracy theorists who think that the U.S. government really is planning to criss-cross the continental United States with killer drones and pick off American citizens on their home soil. A lot of the same people think that America invaded Iraq on behalf of the oil companies (who would make a lot more money if Iraq were zapped by space aliens) or by the Israelis (who never liked the project from the outset). A fair sampling of such paranoia gets posted on the comments section of this site.
Thus we have the strangest pair of bedfellows in modern politics, the Russians and the rubes. Try to explain to them that George W. Bush was a decent and well-intentioned man without a clue as to the consequences of his actions, and they will dismiss it as disinformatsiya. Tell them that the New York Times and the Weekly Standard both believed in the Arab Spring as the herald of a new era of Islamic democracy, and they will see it as proof of a conspiracy embracing both the Democratic and Republican establishments. How, the paranoids ask, could two administrations in succession make so many blunders in succession? It stretches credibility. I wish it were a conspiracy. The truth is that we really are that dumb.
January 23, 2013
H/T to Kathy Shaidle, who writes:
Remember: Conspiracy theories are history for stupid people. They provide idiots with the thrilling sensation that they’re smarter than everyone else, and are a seductive distraction from real problems.
As the (liberal) filmmaker says:
“They lead you to sell your soul for the comfort of being a rebel.”
That’s what Satan did.
December 12, 2012
At sp!ked, Rob Lyons debunks a recent video by Canadian anti-corporate activist Dr. Yoni Freedhoff:
This is a handy menu of food-related government intervention that is trotted out all the time by food crusaders everywhere. But before we get to those interventions, maybe we should ask how we got here in the first place.
First, food got cheaper while, on average, we’ve been generally getting richer. In particular, if America is anything to go by, we spent less as a proportion of income on meat and dairy products — surprisingly, spending on fruit and veg has been pretty constant — and more on processed foods and sweets. In other words, we bought convenience with the money we were saving.
Second, suppliers and retailers realised that as food got cheaper, the way to make money was to ‘add value’ — in other words, take basic ingredients and make them more convenient, more ‘fun’, more ‘premium’ or to appeal to some other psychological need. Yes, food manufacturers are as capable of bullshitting as anybody else with something to sell.
One of the other ways that suppliers add value is to make ‘healthy’ products. But who set up those health claims in the first place? It was the media, the medical profession and, most of all, governments. Who said we should be stuffing our faces with fruit to get our ‘five a day’? Who suggested that we get more omega-3s? Who said we should aim to eat low-fat diets? All of these ideas got the big official stamp of approval. And in the spirit of convenience, the food industry has made it easy, for better or for worse, to meet these official goals.
[. . .]
Moreover, what about the wild claims made for organic food? It has a completely spurious image as natural and wholesome, but study after study finds no consistent difference between organic foods and conventional foods — apart from the price. Yet it is often the most vociferously anti-Big Food campaigners, bloggers and ‘experts’ who push organic as the healthy alternative.
[. . .]
Rather than endless calls for regulations, bans and taxes — whose efficacy is doubtful but whose effect on personal autonomy would be substantial — it would be far better to recognise that any diet with some modicum of balance will be fine for most people, who will live to a greater age than their parents or grandparents, on average, no matter how much disapproved food they consume. Claims that any particular food is some dietary panacea should be treated with a large, metaphorical pinch of salt, whoever makes them, whether they are an evil mega corporation or the bloke behind the counter at the health-food shop.
Above all, a similarly healthy scepticism should be applied to crusading medics who want to scare us with the idea that Big Food is out to kill us and who encourage politicians to regulate what we eat.
December 7, 2012
In a History Today article from 2001, Dan van der Vat looks at the actual history rather than the film treatments of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbour in 1941:
To recount what actually happened blow by blow, as in the exhaustive Tora, Tora, Tora!, is one thing; to use the event as the backdrop to an avowed fiction, as in From Here to Eternity, is equally legitimate. But to play fast and loose with history by presenting fiction as fact is at best confusing and at worse dangerous — especially when the event is still within living memory, affects current policy and needs to be understood by the young if the lessons of history are to be truly learned.
On Roosevelt’s ‘date that will live in infamy’, six Japanese carriers launched 350 aircraft to immobilise the US battlefleet at the very moment talks were due to resume in Washington. The Americans knew Japan’s propensity for surprise attack (Korea in 1895, the Russians’ Chinese enclave at Port Arthur in 1904, Manchuria in 1931, China in 1937). They were forewarned by their Tokyo embassy of the inclusion of Pearl Harbor in Japan’s war-plans, and they intercepted signals exposing its intentions. Yet the Japanese achieved strategic surprise. But their strategic blunder in not bombing repair facilities and fuel dumps spared the US Navy the crippling embarrassment of having to withdraw 2,200 miles eastward to the continental West Coast.
[. . .]
Initial American reaction to Pearl Harbor included not only rage at Japanese duplicity but also incredulity based on racism. Many witnesses insisted they had seen swastikas on the bombers; surely the Germans must have been behind such a sophisticated stroke. Inability to cope with the reality of America’s most spectacular lost battle led to a flourishing conspiracy industry which sprang up within hours of the bombing.
Even today, extreme revisionists claim that British frogmen came in on the midget Japanese submarines that almost gave the game away by trying to attack before the bombers. That at least one batch of intelligence intercepts from 1941 has not yet been released is taken as proof that they must conceal the ‘smoking gun’ the revisionists so stubbornly seek to this day.
Update: MHQ has the story of the most effective Japanese spy who reported on the comings and goings of US Navy ships at Pearl Harbour:
At 1:20 a.m. on December 7, 1941, on the darkened bridge of the Japanese aircraft carrier Akagi, Vice Admiral Chuichi Nagumo was handed the following message: “Vessels moored in harbor: 9 battleships; 3 class B cruisers; 3 seaplane tenders, 17 destroyers. Entering harbor are 4 class B cruisers; 3 destroyers. All aircraft carriers and heavy cruisers have departed harbor….No indication of any changes in U.S. Fleet or anything unusual.”
[. . .]
Astonishingly, such critical intelligence was not the work of a brilliant Japanese superspy who had worked his way into the heart of the fleet’s installation. Rather, Takeo Yoshikawa, a naval officer attached to the consulate and known to the Americans, had simply watched the comings and goings of the fleet from afar, with no more access than a tourist. He made little effort to cloak his mission, and almost certainly would have been uncovered if American intelligence had been more on the ball, or if America’s lawmakers had recognized the mortal threat Japan presented. Instead, he raised little suspicion, and his observations helped the Japanese piece together an extraordinarily detailed attack plan, ensuring its success.
September 20, 2012
NBC News reported that the US State Department has “No secret plan to invade Canada”. But they’d say that even if they did have such a plan (and let’s be honest, they must have thought about it, especially during the Trudeau years):
The U.S. and Mexico are not secretly planning to invade Canada, a State Department spokeswoman confirmed to laughter during a daily press briefing.
Spokeswoman Victoria Nuland was taking questions from journalists about its activities Tuesday, which included a meeting between Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Mexico Foreign Minister Patricia Espinosa.
She was asked about “a signing ceremony” with Espinosa — what was being signed and why was the ceremony not open to the press.
“I think it’s an update on Merida, but I will get that for you,” Nuland reported, referring to the Merida Initiative to fight organized crime.
The journalist asked, “This isn’t some secret thing … to invade Canada or something like that?”
Amid laughter, Nuland replied: “No, no, no. It’s not anything classified.”
It’s also one of the things that military staff do: prepare plans for all kinds of potential conflicts. Canada had a plan to invade the United States, for example.
Update, 22 September: For your further reading pleasure, why not go through the actual 1935 invasion plan document?
June 7, 2012
Tim Worstall explores the range of possibilities:
Viewing the ghastly mess that politics makes of anything, it can be difficult to decide between cock-up and conspiracy theories. Are politicians simply too dim to perceive the effects of what they do, or are they are plotting to make the world a worse place?
Which brings us to where I believe the real climate change conspiracy is: in what we’re told we must do about it all. I’ve pointed out that if we assume that the basic science is correct (and I certainly don’t have either the hubris or technical knowledge to check it) then the answer is a simple carbon tax. The British Government employed Nick Stern to run through what was the correct economic response, assuming the IPCC was correct, and that was his answer. So the question has to be why hasn’t that same government enacted that very solution? Which is, as I say, where I think the conspiracy comes in.
For instead of this simple and workable solution we end up with the most ghastly amount of wibble and dribble.
Consider the subsidies to renewables. Our system gives higher subsidies to the more expensive technologies: clearly ludicrous. We have some limited amount of money, whatever that limit is, and we thus want to get as much renewable power as we can from that limited money. But we give five times more money per unit of power to the most expensive technology, solar, than we do to the cheapest, hydro. What have the politicians been smoking to deliberately spend our money in the most inefficient manner possible?
Or we could look at the argument for subsidy to solar itself: we’re told that it will be economic, comparable to coal-generated power, within only a couple of years. Thus we must have subsidy now – which is insane. If something is about to be profitable without subsidies then we don’t want anyone installing it yet; install it in a couple of years when it is profitable without subsidies. Why waste good money when we can just wait?
June 4, 2012
An interesting post at The Honest Courtesan on the strong similarities between the media freak-out about Satanic ritualists kidnapping children back in the late 1980s and early 1990s and the current media meme about sex trafficking rings:
How well do you remember the “Satanic Panic” of the ‘80s and ‘90s? Do you remember when you first heard about it, and what your reactions were? Do you remember how widespread and exaggerated the claims were, and how seriously everyone took them? The reactions from believers when skeptics pointed out the tremendous absurdities? The decline and fall of the hysteria? I sure do, and if you do as well you’ve probably noticed the strong resemblance of “trafficking” hysteria to its older sibling. Both revolve around gigantic international conspiracies which supposedly abduct children into a netherworld of sexual abuse; both are conflated with adult sex work, especially prostitution and porn; both make fantastic claims of vast numbers which are not remotely substantiated by anything like actual figures from “law enforcement” agencies or any other investigative body; both rely on circular logic, claiming the lack of evidence as “proof” of the size of the conspiracy and the lengths to which its participants will go to “hide” their nefarious doings; both encourage paranoia and foment distrust of strangers, especially male strangers; etc, etc, etc.
[. . .]
Once one is able to examine the hysteria from an historical and sociological perspective, it becomes rather fascinating (though none the less frightening for those of us whose profession is being targeted by the witch hunters). For example, one can see how events that would have been interpreted one way 15 years ago are now seen through the lens of “human trafficking”; this recent trial in which members of a Somali gang were convicted for forcing young female members into prostitution would have been reported as a “gang-related violence” story in the late ‘90s, but is now labeled a “sex trafficking case”. In the ‘80s, every city in America imagined itself overrun with Satanic cultists; now it’s “human traffickers”, and there’s a creepy competition for the title of “leading hub for sex trafficking”, generally on the basis of how many interstate highways pass through or near the city (since none of them have any actual statistics to support their claims). In the past year I’ve heard New York, Dallas, Miami, Portland, Atlanta and Sacramento vying for this dubious distinction, and now Tulsa, Oklahoma is as well.
H/T to Jesse Walker for the link.
June 1, 2012
To be a True European, you must believe in the European project wholeheartedly and unreservedly. Any other attitude is unacceptable:
I was once interviewed by one of Le Soir’s best-known journalists, who asked me whether I was in favor of the European project. I said that I would answer if she would tell me what it was. She did not, and we moved on to other subjects. Whatever the European project may be, those who don’t embrace it wholeheartedly — with a fervor that can only be described as mystical, considering that no one can explain or define it in simple terms — are depicted not as skeptics, but as enemies. Thus in Le Soir, we read: “Only the enemies of the Euro and of the European political project, notably the City of London, dream of such a cataclysm [the break-up of the single currency]!”
The City of London — Britain’s equivalent of Wall Street — here plays the role of the bloated plutocrat of Soviet iconography or of the Jewish manipulator of Nazi iconography, pulling the strings behind the scenes in order to achieve its malevolent design of controlling the world. One can make many possible criticisms of the City of London, but a determination to destroy the viability of the euro for some unspecified, atavistic reason is certainly not among them. If the euro is viable, the City couldn’t destroy it; if it is not, the City cannot save it. Besides, the idea that there is a congregation of malign conspirators within the fabled Square Mile who would rejoice at the euro’s implosion is absurd; the prospect is almost universally viewed with apprehension, though it would not come as a surprise to everyone.
April 26, 2012
At least, it’s quite clear that most of the chattering classes consider Murdoch to be the arch-manipulator/secret ruler of British life. Brendan O’Neill disagrees:
So there he was, the secret ruler of modern Britain, the dark, rotting heart of the British state, the man who has wielded his ‘extraordinary power’ in order to ‘manipulate officialdom’ and extend his influence over ‘politics, the media and the police’. I hope you weren’t fooled by Rupert Murdoch’s diminutive stature or his octogenarian demeanour as he appeared before the Leveson Inquiry yesterday, or his denials about using his ‘political power to get favourable treatment’. Because this small, old newspaper owner is, in fact, the mastermind of a ‘shadowy influence-mart’ who has exercised a ‘malign influence on our politics for the past 30 years’. And now, thanks to Lord Leveson, we finally have an opportunity to ‘banish’ this ‘tyrant’ from our shores and a ‘glorious opportunity for meaningful reform’.
At least, that’s what the Leveson cheerleading squad, the media and celebrity groupies of this inquiry into press ethics, would have us believe. These people are rapidly taking leave of their senses. Their depiction of Rupert Murdoch as the dastardly puppeteer of the British political sphere has crossed the line from rational commentary into David Icke territory, sounding increasingly like a conspiracy theory about secret rulers of the world. And their claim that Murdoch singlehandedly ruined British politics — that he is, in the words of one commentator, the architect of modern Britain’s ‘heartlessness, coarseness and spite’ — speaks to their inability to get to grips with the true causes of political crisis today. Yesterday’s shenanigans made it pretty clear that Murdoch-bashing has become a cheap substitute for grown-up debate.
It is of course true that Murdoch is very influential, as you would expect of a man who, in Britain alone, owns both the newspaper of record (The Times) and the bestselling tabloid (the Sun). But not only do the Murdoch-maulers overestimate how influential he is; more importantly they misunderstand the origins and nature of his influence in modern Britain. It is not that Murdoch set out to create a ‘shadow state’ that could ‘intimidate parliament’, as madly claimed by Labour MP Tom Watson. Rather, it was the increasing alienation of parliament and politicians from the public which boosted Murdoch’s political fortunes, making him the go-to man for ministers and MPs desperate to make a connection with us. In other words, Murdoch didn’t destroy British politics in his scrabble for greater influence — it was the already existing death of British politics, its loss of meaning and purchase, which, by default, made Murdoch influential.
March 30, 2012
In a twist that will delight conspiracy theorists everywhere, it really was a CIA plot:
In 1951, a quiet, picturesque village in southern France was suddenly and mysteriously struck down with mass insanity and hallucinations. At least five people died, dozens were interned in asylums and hundreds afflicted.
For decades it was assumed that the local bread had been unwittingly poisoned with a psychedelic mould. Now, however, an American investigative journalist has uncovered evidence suggesting the CIA peppered local food with the hallucinogenic drug LSD as part of a mind control experiment at the height of the Cold War.
The mystery of Le Pain Maudit (Cursed Bread) still haunts the inhabitants of Pont-Saint-Esprit, in the Gard, southeast France.