Thursday, September 29, 2016

DRAWINGS THAT STILL AROUSE EMOTIONS

Can drawings still inflame passions today?

Anyone who doubts it should've attended the annual convention of the American Association of Editorial Cartoonists last week in Durham, North Carolina.  Editorial cartoonist Ann Telnaes (of the Washington Post) described how she was swamped with outraged phone calls, emails and tweets  after drawing a negative cartoon about Ted Cruz.

 

Some of the comments she received were later quoted in The Columbia Journalism Review:
“You filthy kunt…a baseball bat to your head is now due."
“HOW FUCKING DARE YOU CUNT. GET THE HELL OUT OF THE BUSINESS…”
“Bitch, your days are numbered.”
“do the world a favor, go hang yourself”
“I hope you get raped to death”
It's a good thing Cruz's followers are so religious; otherwise those comments might've turned nasty.

Cruz supporters helpfully posted Telnaes' photo online so she'd be easier to identify.  In the face of this lunatic rage, the Washington Post chickened out and removed the cartoon from its web site, thus vindicating angry jerks everywhere.

Cartoonist Joel Pett (of the Lexington Herald Leader) told a similar story.   He entertained the AAEC audience by playing his voice mailbox filled with enraged calls about Pett's cartoon criticizing Kentucky governor Matt Bevin: 


The attack on Pett was boosted by right wing social media and went viral.  At one point Pett did a little dance onstage to the soundtrack of crazed callers threatening him with harm.

I checked with conservative cartoonist Scott Stantis (The Chicago Tribune) to see if he received similar hate mail from the left.  He described how a reader called his home to say that he hoped Stantis's children would be killed.  There are morons on both sides of the political spectrum, many of whom have trouble reading complex words but who understand (and resent) the power of pictures.

Once upon a time, editorial cartoons were thought to make a difference by educating the public and showing them perspectives that might change their minds or soften their positions.  Cartoonist Thomas Nast was credited with helping to bring down the corrupt Tweed regime that controlled New York in the 1860s and 70s.  His graphic symbols resonated with the public (he created popular icons, such as the Republican elephant and Democratic donkey) so much that he influenced presidential elections.  Tweed is reported to have cursed, "Stop them damn pictures! I don't care what the papers write about me. My constituents can't read, but they can see the pictures."

Judging from this year's AAEC convention, fewer readers today are interested in being educated and more are interested in reinforcing their pre-existing biases.  To achieve this, many seem intent on silencing opposing views.  Ironically, these are the people who need education the most.  People who once were embarrassed by their own ignorance seem willing today to take aggressive steps to preserve it.

In such a climate, my hat is off to today's editorial cartoonists.

29 comments:

mindsnax said...

Didn't the WashPost remove the Cruz cartoon because it depicted Latina children as monkeys?

My recollection was that they wobbled at offending minorities (especially blameless children) and also got concerned that it was benefiting the girls' father politically. The Post offends non-leftists every day. I can't believe they dropped that silly little cartoon because it bothered Cruz or his supporters.

I agree that they should've just owned it. After all, Lincoln was depicted as an ape in his day. Cruz's little girls as monkeys? No big deal. Burying controversial editorial decisions is a real lightweight move.

Anybody who publishes a non-moderate political opinion, left or right, in the anonymous Internet era gets called filthy names. That cartoonist should draw Muhammed as a monkey and find out how that plays. Takes more nerve than children as chimps I imagine.

David Apatoff said...

Mindsnax-- that's the spin that the attackers put on the cartoon, and thanks to social media it now seems to be the popular perception. But I think a deeper look proves that version to be false.

The cartoonist agreed that a politician's children are always off limits but said Cruz broke the rules by giving his seven year old daughter an attack script to read, criticizing Hillary Clinton for using a private server for her emails. The girl couldn't possibly have understood what she was reading. Politicians typically use their children as background scenery in ads (or if they're wise, keep them out of the fray altogether). Cruz chose instead to arm his daughter and push her into the arena on the assumption that his opponents wouldn't dare defend themselves against the criticisms he put in her mouth. This tactic has been used effectively by guerillas in the Congo who arm child soldiers, knowing that opposing armies will be reluctant to shoot.

So, far from being an attack on Cruz's children, the point of the cartoon was an attack on Cruz for manipulating his children in a new and shameless way, filming them in a partisan attack ad. That would seem to be a legitimate subject for comment by editorial cartoonists; if not, you forever accept that politicians can use their children as human shields to escape accountability for attacks.

To his credit, Cruz relied on the Washington Post being too weak kneed to engage on the underlying policy issue, once Cruz had mischaracterized it as an attack on a politician's children. The icing on the cake was accusing the Post of "racism." The Post had no choice but to retreat. However, the argument about latinas looking like monkeys is laughable if you watch the commercial in which Cruz's blonde daughters are dressed like they just came from a high society cotillion in the most WASP country club on the planet.

kev ferrara said...

You guys both drank the poison.

vanderleun said...

"It's a good thing Cruz's followers are so religious; otherwise those comments might've turned nasty."

You know, that's a classic example of the grinding of a very dull axe on a very soft stone. Any time somebody uses a few specific examples and scoots right off of them into a "universal"statement without even bothering to pass through a generalization denotes a person whose little head is thinking for his big head. In general. Not always.

David Apatoff said...

Kev Ferrara-- You could be right. For more than ten years, I've tried to distinguish the flagon with the dragon from the vessel with the pestle on this blog. However, I have to admit that in the final stages of this election I hear the pellet with the poison whispering to me.

I haven't forgotten that there's no bigger waste of time than getting into political debates online. But perhaps spending 3 or 4 days listening to the editorial cartoonists of the AAEC has reminded me that there are worse fates than taking a stand on something that will have such a significant impact on our society.

Or, perhaps I just don't like bullies who threaten to kill artists for their drawings. There was an excellent AAEC panel with some of the most talented caricaturists in the country-- Tom Fluharty, Steve Brodner, Victor Juhasz-- whose politics stretched from far left to far right, yet it was a joy to watch them interact with such friendship and respect and regard for each other's talents. Nobody threatened to rape anyone to death or hit someone in the head with a baseball bat.

But I've also said over the years on this blog that I have special respect for artists who are not just theoreticians, but who are willing to put down the paint brush and pick up the rock when necessary: Poet and war hero Siegfried Sassoon who wrote, "In me the tiger sniffs the rose." Kathe Kollwitz. George Orwell. The great Arthur Koestler who wrote like a dream but realized, as he watched the Nazis slowly come to power, that it was time to put aside the books and fight the Nazis in the street. Goya's horrors of war? The ancient Greeks celebrated the warrior poet, believing that battle tempered the arts, merging theoria and praxis. It can't all be poison.

kev ferrara said...

The media encourages fallacious reasoning and sensation-seeking at a mass level as a byproduct of their efforts to arrest a sufficient mob of information consumers with cheaply procured content. That's the core of the problem. That's the jackboot I worry about.

Tom said...

Hi David

This is a little of topic but I think you might get a kick out of it, if you haven't already seen it. It's a Thomas Frank lecture on creativity. He does a good job of explaining why certain art forms are chosen over others in our culture. A question you have address numerous times in your posts. He does write about politics (he wrote,"What's the Matter with Kansas," and attended the U of C.)

There is an introduction and it starts a little slow, but it gets more and more interesting as he progresses.

https://youtu.be/BaxoYUk4KMI

This one is good too, he address advertising in the 1960's it's called the 'Conquest of Cool." You might recognize some of the ads he presents in the lecture.

https://youtu.be/u0b9cwev7MQ

Tom said...

David
You know the other problem might be that 6 corporations control about 90 percent of the media. How many news outlets have been destroy in the last 30 years lot's of cities used to have two papers with differing views and how many people can make a living as a local reported now, it's amazing how local news has become all weather and sports, present by news readers, not reporters.

I think it would be hard to find a newspaper that would publish the work of a Thomas Nast today. It's ok to insult and yell at each other about "cultural matters," in the media but to express/discuss different views about policies and democracy, not so much.

MORAN said...

Everybody know who these people are. They just death threatened the Arizona newspaper for endorsing Hillary. They are on TV waving their guns around and bragging about hurtiung people who are different than them. Crazy right wing fuckers don't understand democracy.

kev ferrara said...

Newspapers and news outlets have always been biased entities trafficking in insufficient sets of facts and partial truths. And mass media was already going strong in 1900. (The scale has changed, considerably, of course. And clearly the 24-hour news cycle is a huge change, as well as a cultural disaster of epic proportions.)

But even more underappreciated here is that, all along, media entities have been replacing real, messy, unpredictable physical interactions among differing communities' members with ideologically-scrubbed and sealed virtual ones which they control. Online/social media is only the latest step in that trend.

Communities should be, and once were defined by their physical reality in relation to other physical communities they mingled with. Where no social physics exists, actual unmediated interactions between members of different communities diminishes, which means the most rigorous and direct checks possible on one's beliefs and actions, or one's community's teachings, do not occur. Which leads to stark isolation from without, and complete immersion within. The mental comfort in that hermetically sealed habitat then becomes total. And, as a result, the intolerance for discomfort, for alien ideas and ways of being, even for new facts, becomes hyper-sharpened.

Even leaving out the problem of "news" as a phenomena intrinsically housing, and thus teaching, fallacious and sensationalist thinking, all media sources still reflexively indoctrinate their audience.

Equally troublesome, within virtual, shielded communities, anonymity becomes possible. And thus people who have been isolated, whose information diets have been utterly controlled and protected from outside testing, have also been freed from the social responsibility of those ideas. With their names and physical self absent from the debate, and with everything they think handed down to them, they have even been freed from authorship of their own assertions.

As a side note, I think the great lesson of mediation as a general matter is that everything virtual is corrupted and corrupting.

David Apatoff said...

Vanderleun wrote: "that's a classic example of the grinding of a very dull axe on a very soft stone. Any time somebody uses a few specific examples and scoots right off of them into a "universal"statement without even bothering to pass through a generalization denotes a person whose little head is thinking for his big head. In general. Not always."

I take your point, although perhaps the axe is not so dull and the stone is not so soft as you might conclude from my single line about the religious devotion of Ted Cruz's followers. It's true that I didn't confirm the religious affiliation of the Cruz supporters who threatened Telnaes because, surprisingly enough, none of them signed their names. However, that doesn't mean we have to pretend we don't know what's happening here. Cruz conspicuously centered his presidential campaign on the evangelical Christian vote, from his campaign launch at Liberty U, the largest Christian university in the world, to his repeated exhortations in his speeches, "Today, roughly half of born-again Christians aren’t voting. They’re staying home. Imagine instead millions of people of faith all across America coming out to the polls and voting our values." Cruz only dropped out of the race when he discovered that evangelical voters preferred Trump's exhortations to violence over Cruz's exhortations to piety. Many of the social media outlets that drummed up hundreds of complaints against Telnaes and the Post were affiliated with Christian conservatives. (The rest, such as Fox News which banged the drum loudly, were merely conservative but with a substantial religious audience).

Perhaps I'm missing something, but did you see any Christian values in those profane death threats?

David Apatoff said...

Kev Ferrara wrote: "Newspapers and news outlets have always been biased entities trafficking in insufficient sets of facts and partial truths."

If the most comprehensive historians didn't settle for some degree of imprecision, they'd never finish a book. And if news is just, as they say, a "first draft of history," there's no question news will inevitably "traffick in insufficient sets of facts and partial truths." Still, I think we should recognize that some news sources are more responsible than others, and even when outlets are overtly biased, a consumer who genuinely cares about truth can come up with a fairly reliable synthesis by watching both extremes-- for example, Fox News and MSNBC-- and pitting one set of facts against another. If not, what's your alternative? Ignore news because it's inevitably biased and corrupt?

I think the problem you describe has been exacerbated by 24 hour cable news, because its financial success depends upon wooing viewers with news based on hair trigger judgments, couched in the most adversarial terms. If there was a market for cautious, thoughtful, comprehensive news, I'm sure cable news would be happy to provide it. The same impatient audience demands seem to shape our politics. A politician who says "let's be patient and see" whether an explosion is a terrorist act, or whether a black victim of a police shooting was armed will never amount to anything in our technological ochlocracy. Doesn't that mean that the fault is with the citizens, and not the press?

I was a little surprised by your point, "Communities should be, and once were defined by their physical reality in relation to other physical communities they mingled with." Aren't you just saying that people would have less dissonance if they stayed within their tribe? Back when Marshall McLuhan began predicting the effect of telecommunications, he guessed that we would all be homogenized by technology into a "global village" with common reference points and a shared history. Others, more cynical, predicted that opposing religions, cultures, philosophies that were once geographically separated would come into sharper contrast, with less time to work out compromises and reconciliations, thus leading to more conflict rather than less. I think it's still too early to say which way things will end up, but right now it's not looking good for the "global village" theory.

But doesn't restricting communities to their physical reality allow people to indulge in provincial superstitions and intolerances? Isn't that establishing truth by (as my friend Vanderleun says above) the "grinding of a very dull axe on a very soft stone"? That can't be right, but even if someone wanted to return to that state, is it even possible? The cyber communities today scoff at the relevance of the physical reality of communities today and urge a global cyber government. They say that "terrestrial governments" may still be useful for a very small number of necessarily local activities, but most of the functions of government (taxes, customs, immigration, etc.) have now become global, and even King Canute wouldn't attempt to hold back that tide.

kev ferrara said...

Hi David,

Firstly, thank you for introducing me to the term "ochlocracy."

To an extent, I agree with the underlying premise of your first point, that in order to be educated about anything one has to become involved in Dialectic: pitting relatively opposing arguments against one another. And presumably you would add that one would then pit both (or as many as one has time to consult) against one's experience and education, requiring some hard thinking and referencing. And then we hope the experiment yields something worth pocketing, some synthetic insight.

But the real world is the opposite of binary or polar. And are more sources always better? If each has merit and integrity and ambitions to be comprehensive, maybe. But you can't average out a bunch of half-truths and arrive at truth. Just as one can't average a bunch of monte carlo model runs and pretend a correct answer has been reached. The average of ten guesses is still worthless. It isn't data.

Again, I'm reminded of that McGovern panel on nutrition at the tail end of the 1970s. When a scientist remarked to McGovern that the state of biological and nutritional knowledge was so weak that it was best to wait rather than make any national dietary recommendations. McGovern snapped at him, "I'm a politician. I don't have the luxury of sitting back and waiting." Or something to that effect. And out of that panel, and that thinking, came the food pyramid, a junk-science based nationwide experiment in nutrition we are still struggling to shuck off. So, yes, my answer to most questions is don't let any of the craven powerdrunk political hacks do a damn thing, particularly on a mass scale, top down, unless every Einstein we've got says okay. Evolution works in a mysteriously effective way. While pretty much everything we do at a large scale has tremendous unintended negative consequences. (Because human minds are hopelessly ideological and linear. And so we naturally build things which have intrinsic ideological and linear philosophies embedded within them.)

In my experience it is quite easy to note the bias and elisions of the baldly biased. Their mental errors are easy to spot out. The smarter one gets, the more devious the bias, the more subterranean the elisions. It took me 30 years to realize how full of beans NPR and the New York Times was. It will surely take me a lifetime to appreciate all the ways in which I am deluded. The biased rarely have a sense of their own bias. Most biased people are so thoroughly ensconced in their own preoccupations and paradigms they literally can't even process criticisms of them. Plus, I am sure, there are things that we don't want ourselves to comprehend. Because there are fights, hatreds and empowerments that we simply enjoy too much. So why would we want to dissipate them via rational, objective consideration.

Aren't you just saying that people would have less dissonance if they stayed within their tribe?

No. I must not have been clear. The point was that the direct physical interactions of you (and your tribe) with other tribes makes one accustomed to dissonance. Which would be a much more desirable state than what we have now.

David Apatoff said...

Tom-- I really enjoyed the Thomas Frank lecture very much (although I would have shaved 15 minutes off that guy who introduced him). Thanks for the link-- he is smart, outspoken, and I enjoy his "outside the box" views. In fact, after I watched his talk on creativity I began wandering through his other talks on politics, etc. There's a lot worth listening to.

Do you think Thomas Nast could find a home on the internet that would make up for his loss of a newspaper forum today?

MORAN-- Well, I'm not sure I would phrase it the way you did, but I did note that the Arizona Republic received death threats from Trump supporters for not endorsing Trump. This is the same ignorant, angry subspecies of humanity that made death threats against Telnaes. The extremists who think they're defending "the Constitution" seem to have the least understanding of how it works. You hear them talking on Hannity's show and it's clear they've never even read the Constitution. They're just angry.

Kev Ferrara-- I have some sympathy for McGovern's admonition, "I'm a politician. I don't have the luxury of sitting back and waiting." Politicians, just like generals, lawyers and judges, ultimately have to go forward with imperfect information. Hopefully their awareness of their imperfections will cause them to be a little humble and circumspect. Yes there will be mistakes such as the food pyramid but wouldn't the world be much worse if everyone adopted the pristine methodology of Descartes or epistemological philosophers who linger forever over the nature of knowledge? Children would never get fed. Potentially carcinogenic chemicals would never be regulated until we had 100% certainty. Countries could never defend themselves.

"human minds are hopelessly ideological and linear. And so we naturally build things which have intrinsic ideological and linear philosophies embedded within them."
Present company excepted, of course?

"the direct physical interactions of you (and your tribe) with other tribes makes one accustomed to dissonance. Which would be a much more desirable state than what we have now."
But wouldn't you agree that people, at least in the western world, have the option of experiencing those interactions if they had the curiosity and the honesty to want them? We can travel anywhere we want and rub up against people of all kinds. We can watch al jazeera news or move to any neighborhood we want or travel anywhere in the world or discuss cultural differences on Facebook. To the extent we fail to do so, isn't that a failure of human nature, rather than our political system?

kev ferrara said...

Politicians, just like generals, lawyers and judges, ultimately have to go forward with imperfect information. Hopefully their awareness of their imperfections will cause them to be a little humble and circumspect.

Hope is a precious little bird, no doubt.

Yes there will be mistakes such as the food pyramid but wouldn't the world be much worse...

My father suffered and died from complications of diabetes. As are millions of other fathers, mothers and now even children all over the country as we chat. The nationwide lurch toward carbohydrate-based diets (and concomitant demonization of dietary lipids) is partially to blame for the sudden overwhelming presence of that disease as well as so many other infamous diseases we now understand, increasingly, as directly related to hyperinsulinemia and metabolic dysfunction. Which altogether threaten to sink our healthcare and economic system. (If you aren't worried, you aren't paying attention.)

Other contributors to this bloody disaster besides poor science and craven and impatient pols include, the egotism of the well-connected, the buying off of several important labs by sugar and grain manufacturers, and graft-based subsidies for garbage corn products like HFCS.

All to say, I will never dismiss disastrous governmental grand strategies enacted by ambitious, impatient politicians as mere "minor mistakes" to be shrugged off as inconveniences of an activist government.

To speak abstractly for a moment about this: I think most people agree that power corrupts. It follows, I think without argument, that concentrating power must therefore also concentrates corruption.

That, it seems to me, has been borne out by what evidence has come to light about how government functions.

Wouldn't the world be much worse if everyone adopted the pristine methodology of Descartes or epistemological philosophers who linger forever over the nature of knowledge?

This is a straw man. Nobody is arguing to let children starve, to let poison into the drinking water, or to let nazi ideologies go unchecked. The point of questioning one's self and the extent of one's knowledge is to ensure an earnest effort to do less harm in situations of high impact but low and debatable information, and particularly to call out opaque situations where political, personal, commercial and activist interests can woo and cajole decision-makers behind closed oak doors. People with agendas never tell the truth, period.

Present company excepted, of course?

No.

But wouldn't you agree that people, at least in the western world, have the option of experiencing those interactions if they had the curiosity and the honesty to want them? We can travel anywhere we want and rub up against people of all kinds. We can watch al jazeera news or move to any neighborhood we want or travel anywhere in the world or discuss cultural differences on Facebook. To the extent we fail to do so, isn't that a failure of human nature, rather than our political system?

I am quite sympathetic to the libertarian perspective, and I do believe in personal agency. But I don't think it is deniable that we are trained and conditioned by the technology of the culture. And computers are now increasingly shoved in our faces from birth. And this seems to lead increasingly to screen-mediated isolation and "virtual" communities. Which then leads increasingly to the problematic virtual tribalism I described earlier.

Sean Farrell said...

If we're going to go along with the modern notion that every anger has to be expressed and heard, then we're witnessing the resulting world. The elimination of all restraints in the pursuit of happiness is also a removal of all restraints in the pursuit of rights. And the pursuit of rights may include for some the pursuit of justice. We are living the results of true pluralism, where all ideas and meanings are equal, where there are no priorities, were all micro-aggressions are violations of innocence and purity in a culture that has no use for innocence or purity. The use of language is no longer interested in reason as part of some larger reality/ logos, so neither do rights have anything to do with a larger reality but are now matters of will and force, a means to an end. The function of language and even law now serves as a weapon in the causes of will and force which is a war on the distinctions which separate us and cause wounds to human pride.

Humanity's imperfection is an endless source of pain and discontent, but anger and pride is not a cure for its wounds. It's not a cure because anger and pride is often the source of humanity's wounds. Joy is elusive to the possessions of man and its abandonment requires trust.

A social order that is demolished with pluralism cannot provide trust. Paranoia steps in to question whether the culprits are even real, or trolls? Were the threats to the newspaper endorsing Clinton made by Clinton operatives to enhance a sympathy vote? The whole thing becomes impossible. Wounds accusing wounds, wounds suspicious of other wounds. It's like the open accusations of bigotry being thrown around from opposing groups who are employing bigotry themselves. All of this is fairly easy to manipulate and control by the auspices of pluralism, making trust even more elusive and pride more inclined to get carried away with itself.

kev ferrara said...

Sean,

I enjoyed reading what you wrote. I definitely believe in the value of stoicism, and certainly what we do trains us to do more of the same. So venting emotion encourages more emotionalism. But I don't think the issue here is mainly caused by people being encouraged to vent.

I think the issue is rather that political organizations are media/business entities which must ensure market share in order to survive and prosper. And so tremendous psychological manipulation-cum-marketing is brought to bear on millions of people through media to partition off a sufficient consumer base and create absolute brand loyalty. It begins, it all begins, I think with emotion.

My theory is that ideologies are people's fears and frustrations mistranslated into pieties. In times of poor economics, fears and frustrations are especially prevalent and acute, and so those are the times of most ideological divisions.

Despite what is claimed, there is no actual goal to ideology except to eradicate those fears and frustrations. (The resulting cleansing of which will result in "heaven on earth," the grand joke of it all.)

The oppositions to any ideology are those that reject the pieties consciously because they intuitively reject the hidden fears and frustrations that generate them. The oppositions to an ideology may also be people or groups that are themselves the source of the fears and frustrations the ideology is manufactured from. So obviously such targets are not going to repudiate themselves. Rather they must be demonized and then outlawed. Given these protocols, the other side will always seem nuts and bigoted and dangerous to the ideologue. And the more ideologies spread, the more division and tribalism results.

Anyhow, getting around to the point; the sublimation of fears and frustrations behind ideological pieties is the way people are generally educated about politics. And this makes for hyper reactive exchanges between partisans because there is no buffer of circumspection, complexity, or experience between the piety and the emotion it is predicated on. There is no insulation. So any, even slight, attack on the piety results in an immediate detonation of the emotion.

Sean Farrell said...

Thanks Kev,
Everything you have said in your comments makes lots of sense. Your theory on ideologies is well stated. The elimination of the pride of the “oppressor” might be a little more than just eliminating fears, because the resulting destruction is a threat to social order itself. The intimidation of people in all walks of life is getting more than a little concerning. If the 20th century was a century of tyrants, then the 21st Century is starting out as the century of lilliputians. But equally spooky is that the millennials are the first generation without a human language and so the notion of self examination is almost unknown.

The reactions to the cartoons are a very close to actual threats and may be so, but then reading about a kid posting something about Blue Lives Matter this morning probably thinking he was being smart and getting beaten into critical condition for it, is no longer the realm of ideas.

nice said...

nice

kev ferrara said...

Sean,

In the case of an actual oppressor, I don't think the issue would be ideological.

Not coincidentally, mass manipulation is constantly used to define ideological opponents as Actual Oppressors, in order to make any tactic justifiable to topple them, including theft and violence. I think this explains much of the lone wolf violence one sees.

On Milennials, in general, I think they've been retarded by a lack of unmediated physical and emotional experience and too much exposure to political manipulation.

Sean Farrell said...

Kev,
Yes, some of this “oppressor” business is political fabrication. It appears to me that the current movement which is vast in scope and includes things as remote as Greece and Venezuela, is departing from dialogue and that we have entered another phase, one of force and will. It's something like the opposite of beauty, where so many elements interact that it almost defies focus, but instead of beauty we are seeing chaos beginning to establish itself. The violence we are seeing may be lone wolf but it is certainly being cultivated.

Just as the rebellions, coups and industrial advancement uprooted and eclipsed the former agricultural and religious order of monarchies, today's mega-corporatism and technologies are eclipsing the nation state, democracy and the human being as rooted in nature. In the name of desired causes, egalitarianism, equality, fairness and so forth, even our sexuality as represented by pronouns is being stripped away. People are very concerned by a change which is now fairly obvious and understandable, but they still believe in law, common sense and some level of morality. How will this go down if they give up on the legal system, seeing it as part of the multi-national corporate movement eclipsing the sovereign nation state? I don't know, but we've been inching closer to this point for a long while now. I don't have any answers and have no idea if all this will undo the better side of people, but David's post on the cartoonists is another reminder that civility is not a given. Thanks.

kev ferrara said...

Sean,

Your point about the incomprehensible scale and complexity of the matter is well taken.

If I were to take a shot at characterizing the incomprehensible, I would posit these five factions as the main competitors in this depersonalizing war to control, cultivate, and consumerize the human herd: Politicized Religions, Colonial Nations, Large Corporations, One World Progressives, and Libertarian Technologists.

Each, in their own way, dehumanizes and tribalizes, poisoning the possibility of true community through constant mass ideological manipulation. Also, there is a lot of marriages of convenience between factions.

Sean Farrell said...

Kev, I often forget there are competitors in this movement for global dominance. Yes, and marriages of convenience, but are they more? Who can tell until the story is in place? The regular utterances by Christine LeGarde vindicate those who a few years ago were called conspiracy nuts for even suggesting a global movement existed. I heard someone talking about how the oligarchs always encourage the oppressed to internalize their oppression and that is what they did with this movement, making people feel guilty for even thinking about what they saw was taking place before their eyes; the highjacking of sovereignty, the tax giveaways for local land use by disinterested foreign concerns, etc.

Now they are encouraging people to feel guilty about some other oppressive manipulation, claiming nothing is really nothing behind this or that they are doing. As they are doing such they are acclimating people to the next controversy. Things are left in such a way to pit person against person with impossibly twisted contortions of logic, as if either could change laws without a near civil war.

Your internal sense of beauty found in art is an alternative to the madness and I say that because people should be encouraged to find some beauty of an interior nature as an alternative to this circus and this is really what the market fears most, that they may build their new world and people may have found something else more interesting.

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2016-10-04/existential-threat-to-world-order-confronts-elite-at-imf-meeting

kev ferrara said...

I'm way beyond my area of expertise on this subject. I don't know where the IMF sits in all this. Or whether there are other parties involved invisible to me. I'm a knowledge skeptic by philosophy through epistemology and through hard experience with knaves, liars, fools, idiots, ideologues, demagogues, coke heads, paranoids, and bullshitters in life. I tend to check out when people go wide-eyed on me. If you have a Mitrokhin archive or Venona transcript, I'll pay attention. I'll tilt my ear to the odd Claudia Rosett or Christopher Hitchens. Beyond that, I'll stick to detesting and lamenting the creeps and thugs that I can suss out myself.

Sean Farrell said...

Solzhenitsyn figured out the entire Soviet fraud on his own, so there's great power to sticking to direct observations. Broadly speaking you have a handle on a lot of things from unique angles because you do your own thinking. I'm not a skeptic but I see knowledge as having its limitations. It's not the same as being a skeptic, but there are probably some similarities. And I'm no expert on anything, but if someone like LeGarde speaks directly and counters what countless media people have said, it goes in the noteworthy column. Thanks.

David Apatoff said...

Kev Ferrara-- I'm truly sorry about your father, Kev. Those "millions of other fathers, mothers and now even children all over the country" who suffer from complications of diabetes include people who are near and dear to me, so I've personally witnessed and felt the pain of this disease, but I can't claim it has taken the same toll on me that it has on you.

I agree that erroneous advice regarding carbohydrates and dietary lipids played a role in the harm that was done, but unlike you, I draw a bright line between the culpabilities of the different causes you list. You can do what you like with those responsible for "buying off of several important labs by sugar and grain manufacturers, and graft-based subsidies for garbage corn products like HFCS." Throw them down a well with spiders and snakes for all I care. But I place the "poor science and craven and impatient pols" (which are closer to the focus of this post) in a different category.

It wasn't unreasonable for scientists to conclude that saturated fat increases LDL levels-- the conclusion was based upon multiple tests over years and resulted from arm's length, rational analysis. It just took further research to refine our knowledge and learn that in many individuals, the increase in LDL reflected an increase in pattern A LDL, a good variation.

The "impatient pols" that you mention deferred to scientific experts which, more often than not, is what I'd want them to do. When pols substitute politics for the judgment of the scientific community, worse mischief usually results. The scientific community wanted to work on a cure for diabetes with stem cell research, but the pols withdrew funding and threw as many obstacles in the way as they could.

When pols act too quickly (for example, approving thalidomide overseas) they get blamed for being "impatient." When pols act too slowly (regulating tobacco, delaying approval of AIDS drugs) they get blamed for being "ineffective." There are risks for the public on either side. But I think it's important to recognize that, while pols gave us bad advice in the situation you describe, it was only advice. They did not regulate our diets and force us to eat certain foods. This is not like mandating fluoride in our drinking water. People are free to disregard that advice and eat as much butter pecan ice cream, or smoke as many cigarettes, or share as many hypodermic needles, as they want. People regularly disregard government "advice."
_______________

"Present company excepted, of course?"
"No."
Hey!

kev ferrara said...

"buying off of several important labs by sugar and grain manufacturers, and graft-based subsidies for garbage corn products like HFCS." Throw them down a well with spiders and snakes for all I care.

A simple stripping of taxpayer funding for the product/industry poisoning the taxpayers who are funding it would be a great start.

An even better idea, pace Dr. Richard Veech at NIH, is to turn the corn-processing industries toward making ketones rather than sugars and utterly wasteful ethanol. One of the hottest and most promising areas of research right now in Diabetes, Parkinsons, Alzheimers, Cancer and many other diseases is the use of ketones. The reasons are too technical and numerous to get into and I only understand them as a science layman (bypasses destructive glucose metabolism, more efficient fuel burning so less waste products, anti-inflammatory naturally, gives more energy with less oxygen used while helping blood flow, etc. Ketones even make the body less susceptible to ionizing radiation.)

Currently, it costs something like $20,000 per patient per year for this intensive therapy. With industry production from corn sources, it would cost around $750. Very affordable. And the corn farmers would be making just as much as before or more by creating ketones, and they'd be making antidote rather than poison. (Dr. Dominic D'agostino at USF is another paving the way in this field. He began this research on behalf of DARPA seven years ago or so. He appears on many podcasts and is always fascinating to listen to.)

It wasn't unreasonable for scientists to conclude that saturated fat increases LDL levels-- the conclusion was based upon multiple tests over years and resulted from arm's length, rational analysis. It just took further research to refine our knowledge and learn that in many individuals, the increase in LDL reflected an increase in pattern A LDL, a good variation.

This is not what I understand to be the actual case. The diet-heart hypothesis never had a basis in fact or solid research. Gary Taubes and Nina Teicholz should be on your nightstand. The tale is sordid and worse than lysenko.

kev ferrara said...

"Present company excepted, of course?"
"No."

Hey!

Sorry. Yes, of course we're all poets and geniuses around here. Poets, geniuses, wits, rationalists, moralists, scholars... We're also monkeys wearing top hats.

Tom said...

Hi David

I really enjoy listening to Thomas Frank as well, he seems so.....human. His talk on creativity I think just nails why the "radical thinking," of the creativity class seems so child like in a bad way. As if creativity just falls out of the sky with no sense of how training and learning of something objective is the true precursor to creative brilliance. His take on Frank Gehry buildings and what they mean was very insightful.

I think a Thomas Nash could find a home on the internet (there are lot's of sources of news now besides the MSM thanks to the internet) but I don't know if he could/would command as large an audience as a cartoonist could have at a newspaper 40 or 100 years ago. Lot's people now are finding their own sources of news instead of traditional newspaper and television news. And Kev's article on the sugar "industry," from CounterPunch shows you why.

Not to much of the damage from Fukushima is being reported on by the MSM as TEPCO's parent company is GE the owner of NBC. Which for some reason remains me of the famous supposed quip of Rothschild, " I care not who makes a nations laws, if I control its money supply."

Now back to Frank Gehryless Rome, (but it is changing too) where almost every street corner is worth stopping to draw or at least stopping for a class of wine.