Monday, February 12, 2007

Fantasyland

Driving in my car, I just listened to a bit of the Ray Taliaferro Show on KGO (810-AM), a San Francisco station that can be heard in Southern California at night. As always, Ray was immensely entertaining. He is convinced that Bush will bomb Iran before his Presidency ends, a prospect he views with horror.

He gave two reasons. First, according to Ray, it says so in PNAC. PNAC is a neoconservative document, the Project for a New American Century. To Ray it is the Bush Administration’s Mein Kampf. Apparently, it says in PNAC that we need a new Pearl Harbor to mobilize Americans, so Ray thinks the September 11, 2001 attacks were done with the Bush administration’s knowledge. Osama bin Laden is friends with the Bush family and his family was given a flight out of America after 9/11. Furthermore, Osama was not captured when we invaded Afghanistan (which was done to make the Bush family rich), and we know where Osama is today but we still do not capture him. It all adds up: Bush and Osama are in cahoots.

Second, Bush will bomb Iran because his family is in oil and, as in Afghanistan and Iraq, a war with Iran will make them richer.

A leftist caller agreed with Ray and said (quoting from memory), “The Republicans have made us the bad guys.” We're the ones in the black hats now. America is now the worst nation on Earth. (I guess that makes our enemies the good guys. Certainly, they're justified in attacking us if we're initiating force just to make our capitalist elite rich.)

What a movie the leftist version of the war would make! Has Oliver Stone started working on it yet? It’s all an evil Republican conspiracy to make themselves rich! These greedy capitalist pigs are willing to send American troops into a meat grinder just so they can make more money.

The people listening to this show are the Democrat base. Ray is hugely popular at Democratic Underground. And these are the people who boast that they are reality based! How many members of Congress do you think agree with all this, but are smart enough not to say it in public? (As I recall, Senator Kennedy did slip and said something about Republicans going to war to get rich.)

It looks to me like a good portion (25%? 30%?) of America cannot think about politics in terms any deeper than a cartoon. Has there ever been a study of the average IQ of Democrat voters?

20 comments:

Kriegsgefahrzustand said...

Prima facie imbecile, that's my term for those people who I talk with once, and for about five minutes, about any subject requiring mature levels of attention, and who in the course of things reveal themselves to be incapable of meaningful thought. I'd say the proportion approaches 75%, but then again my exposure is skewed by virtue of my profession.
Rather predictably, most of them are positively salivating at the prospect of the Democrat white house, although more than a few are Bush supporters. I’m busy trying to identify what makes them one and not the other since there are certainly few objective reasons.

Dismuke said...

This is a good example of why the Left still terrifies me and why the prospect of the Democrats taking the White House along with both houses of Congress in 2008 sends chills down my spine.

What frightens me is not so much that they actually believe such bizarre nonsense is true but the basis that makes it possible for them to do so: psychological projection.

So the Project for a New American Century says that American will need a new Pearl Harbor to mobilize Americans? I have no idea of the context of the PNAC comment but, heck, I more or less said the same thing myself in my comments to your New World Order thread. Notice how the Left, therefore, finds it to be a totally logical next step that the Republicans would, therefore, manipulate events so that another Pearl Harbor does happen.

On what basis can they do so and actually believe it? How about an understanding of how they themselves would operate in a situation where they had vast amounts of power?

Observe, for example, that it was Bill Clinton and his cronies who, in the days following 9-11, were going around saying how unfair it was that 9-11 happened on Bush's watch and how Clinton was denied such a "defining moment" during his presidency. In other words, had reality been kind to Clinton, he would have had his own Pearl Harbor on which to build a legacy.

As for "greed" and Bush wanting to go to war for oil and make himself and his oil buddies rich - well, it is the Left that is obsessed with money and will not think twice about selling anyone and anything out for it. For example, it was Clinton and Gore who thought nothing of selling military secrets to the Red Chinese and breaking all sorts of other laws in order to raise campaign cash. Remember Hillary Clinton and the bizarre fortune she suddenly made in a matter of months trading cattle futures? It was Leftists who thought nothing about diverting money from a Girls and Boys Club charity subsidized by New York City in order to prop up the Leftist Air America radio network - and it was Left leaning mainstream media outlets who refused to cover the story for weeks after it came out and buried it on the back pages when they were finally forced to. It's John Kerry's kids, not the Bush twins, who refer to their dad's wife as their "step-money."

If you listen to the kook Left at Democratic Underground and people such as that radio host talk about what they would actually like to do if they ever get the power - well, it doesn't take long to see that these people are Stalinists. And the things that you mention in your posting are but a tip of the iceberg in terms of the bizarre accusations made against the Administration.

For example, they talk about Bush and Chaney have utter disregard for the Constitution and are setting up an American version of the KGB for domestic spying on their political enemies. Well, these people ought to know about how secret police such as the KGB operate - their ideologically minded comrades in Cuba, Venezuela and Russia are experts on such matters. And it wasn't the Bush Administration, it was the Clinton Administration that had a scandal involving top secret FBI files of prominent political enemies being discovered in White House offices.

When the Left talks like that, it is more than a case of the pot calling the kettle black. They are baring their souls for all to see. They are able to say such things because they are projecting what they would be inclined to consider doing if they were in political power and had the ideological aims that they think the Republicans have. And they don't even grasp it as an issue of the pot calling the kettle black. In their mind, there is a crucial difference - the Republican's alleged ends are evil while their motives and ends are noble and virtuous and fully justify the use of any means necessary.

It is very interesting how they refer to Bush as "Hitler." That's because they actually are Stalinists and are utterly incapable of conceiving of motives that are different from that which motivates them. So they buy into the notion that Hitler was somehow their polar opposite and, therefore, their enemies must also be Hitler as well - when, in fact, to use Ayn Rand's neat little phrase, Hitler and Stalin were but flip sides of the same coin. They think Bush and Chaney are wanna-be dictators because it is beyond their power to conceive of a person in a position of enormous power who would not want to become a dictator.

If these people ever gain complete control over all branches of our government - well, remember how they what they were willing to stoop to when they were out of power in order to try to win elections that they, in fact, did not win? If they were able to act that way OUT of power - well, imagine what they will do WITH power in order to make sure that something like 1994 never happens again? Whether they will be able to get away with it remains to be seen. But mark my words, if they ever gain full power, they WILL try and give it everything they have. That's why the strategy of Objectivists of voting against Republicans only makes sense to the degree that it results in divided government.

Anonymous said...

Myrhaf,

A movie has been made of this. Please rent the remake of "The Manchurian Candidate." It is the movie version of the Left's view of the war.

Please see it if you haven't and post on it. Everything about this movie (including the song that goes with the opening credits) screams "down with America." I felt like I needed a shower after seeing it. It was that disgusting. It really is a longer version of Farenheith 9/11.

Bill Visconti

Myrhaf said...

I saw the original with Angela Lansbury. Was there a remake?

Myrhaf said...

Dismuke and K, I agree with everything you write, except that I find it hard to believe that 75% of the people are stupid, or at least stupid enough to believe wacky conspiracy theories.

Inspector said...

Of the 16 people in my department at work, at least two of them genuinely believe in leftist conspiracy theories. What really stuns me, however, is the ignorance of the youth. I know folks have been saying this for years, but it really is worse with the latest generations emerging from public schools. They have no idea - literally none - of what is going on around them.

My sincerest hope in regards to them is that they simply never vote or express a political opinion in any way. It's the best I think we can hope for.

Kriegsgefahrzustand said...

Oh no, the proportion of those who believe in conspiracy theories is about exactly the same as Inspector. I also have 16 people in my department and 3 believe in that rubbish. The rest are just your garden variety ignorant.

The young, I don't even want to get started on that...

As for my figure of 75%, well it is a view partly skewed like I said by the nature of my employment. For example, it is standard practice for us to issue a literacy test to applicants.

Dismuke said...

Moments after I read Inspector and Kriegsgegahrzustand's comments, I checked my inbox and someone sent me the following joke. It immediately made me think of the people that they were talking about:

- - - - - -

A Must Read Joke!

A man walked into a very high-tech restaurant in a fancy hotel.

As he waited to be seated, he noticed that the Maitre D' was a robot.

The robot clicked to attention and said, "Sir, there is a one hour
wait.
And I am programmed to converse with you until a table is ready, If
you
please."

Intrigued, the man said, "OK."

The robot clicked a couple more times and then asked, "Sir, what is
your
IQ?"

The man answered, "Oh, about 164."

The robot then proceeded to discuss the theory of relativity,
Interstellar
space travel, the latest medical breakthroughs, etc . .

The man was most impressed. The next day he returned, But thought he
would
try a different tack.

The robot again asked, "What is your IQ, sir?" This time the man
answered,
"Oh, about 100".

So the robot started discussing NASCAR racing, the latest basketball
Scores,and what to expect the Red Sox to do this weekend.

The guy had to try it one more time. So the next day he returned.

Again the robot asked the question, "What is your IQ?"

This time the man drawled out, " Uh.....'bout 50."

The robot clicked, then leaned close and very slowly asked,


"A-r-e?? y-o-u-r?? p-e-o-p-l-e?? g-o-i-n-g?? t-o

n-o-m-i-n-a-t-e????H-i-l-l-a-r-y?"

Kriegsgefahrzustand said...

I should also point out that I live in Chicago draw what conclusions you will from that.

Anonymous said...

The remake was made in 2004 and stars Merryl Streep and Denzel Washington. In the original, the Commies were the bad guys. In this version, we are. But you should see it because it depicts perfectly the way the Left sees this war. And, of course, Islam is non-existent.

Bill Visconti

Inspector said...

By the way,

"Prima facie imbecile."

That's good. I was laughing for a bit on that one.

And the robot, that's good too. Especially the way it t-a-l-k-s s-l-o-w-l-y.

As for Chicago, well, from my admittedly limited experience there, it really seems like a lot of its denizens, even the wealthy ones, are stuck in some kind of permanent childhood. They're more mature in some ways than suburbanites but in other ways much, much less so. It's hard to describe. How can one be hard-headed and decadently soft at the same time? Some day I'll figure that one out.

EdMcGon said...

Bill,
I have to disagree with you somewhat. In the remake, Meryl Streep played Hillary Clinton perfectly. And Streep's character was NOT sympathetic.

BTW, I thought the original was MUCH better, mostly because Angela Lansbury was so deliciously evil. In her prime, Lansbury was a far better actress than Streep can ever hope to be.

madmax said...

Here is an Objectivist review of the movie that I agree with:

http://kalapanapundit.blogspot.com/2006/03/manchurian-candidate-then-and-now.html



I actually think that Merryl Streep's character was intended to be a Republican. The whole plot revolved around (to use a phrase) the "military-industrial complex" with Manchurian Global being the movie version of Haliburton. It fits in with the Left's view of the world perfectly.

Myrhaf said...

Some people argue that Hollywood only cares about money. That is not true. Why has a phenomenal best-seller like Atlas Shrugged gone 50 years without a movie version? Why don't we see movies with Islamic terrorists as bad guys? Why is that movies used to call Germans and Japanese "krauts" and "japs" but we will never hear a movie soldier say, "Let's go kill some ragheads"? Why are businessmen and corporations almost always evil? Why did the Dixie Chicks win five Grammys?

madmax said...

Myrhaf,

"Some people argue that Hollywood only cares about money. That is not true."

Great point. Hollywood would fight against such pro-American projects tooth and nail because it conflicts with their dedication to altruism. As you repeatedly remind us, the Left considers themselves moral and superior because they are committed altruists. If they were to make pro-American, pro-egoist movies, they would lose their moral superiority in their eyes. They wouldn't do that even for money.

It would take a cultural revolution and survival pressure to change Hollywood. Such is not even remotely possible for the short-term future.

Anonymous said...

Myrhaf,

I agree on Hollywood. But I think that even if some studio wanted to portray muslims as villians and were to make a great movie depicting such, the film would still probably fail for a number reasons. First, the distributors would probably pull the movie because of fear of offending muslims and their leftist soulmates. Second, I think that all a muslim would have to do was bomb or threaten to bomb a movie theatre playing the film. Who would come to the movie's defense? It would be shunned.

We live under a death threat imposed by Islam and our own government is complicit in that they wouldn't lift a finger to defend our freedom of speech from muslim aggression. That is how much we have lost.

Bill Visconti

Dismuke said...

Madmax wrote:

"It would take a cultural revolution and survival pressure to change Hollywood. Such is not even remotely possible for the short-term future."

Actually, I hold out optimism that "Hollywood," at least as we know it, won't even exist in the not too distant future and will find itself as an economic and technological dinosaur.

It is not as far fetched as you might think. How many people can even name the old big four coast-to-coast radio networks? Two don't even exist anymore and modern incarnation of one will very soon be sold and exist in name only.

Remember the power once enjoyed by the Big Three television networks? Remember how influential their evening newscasts were? My understanding is that the ads sold on those newscasts today are mostly for laxities and denture cream which tells you something about who watches them. I say "my understanding" because the only time I have watched one in recent years was to tune in briefly to gloat and bid a fond "good riddance" to Dan Rather.

Remember the record industry? It still exists but only as a shell of its former self and having to rely on court battles as the only way of preserving some economic reason for its existence. I am not, by the way, talking about illegal downloads so much as its attempts to destroy emerging media venues such as Internet radio which remove the economic barriers to entry that have helped it maintain its ability to promote its artists much more effectively than artists who are with an independent label or who produce their own recordings. Besides their current ability to create hits by promoting music to a handful of FM stations, who needs the recording industry anymore? There are a number of companies here in Fort Worth/Dallas alone who will manufacture CDs for you. It is not uncommon for people to have recording studios in their garage and there are several professional grade studios in any city that one can rent by the hour. CD retail stores are dying very quickly with the biggest market for CDs now being those over 30. ANYONE with intermediate computer skills can upload and distribute music via a website. All of these things - production, manufacturing and distribution - at one time had very high economic barriers to entry and gave the big record labels a reason to exist.

I think the same factors are eventually going to impact and knock down Hollywood.

Traditionally, it has required a small fortune to produce even a low budget picture. But technology is lowering the costs of production and the economic barriers to entry in that area as well. As this process continues to happen, more and more independent films targeted towards more specialized audiences will become viable. These days, Hollywood makes more money off of DVD sales than it does box office receipts. But DVDs don't cost much money to manufacture - and we are slowly getting to the point where movies will be distributed through the Internet which is even less expensive.

Sure, independent films will not have the polish and glitzy special effects that a large budget film will have. But which would you rather watch - a low budget version of The Fountainhead with talented but no-name actors and is true to the book or a film with lots of modern garbage running through but with spectacular and expensive special effects?

As soon as it becomes possible to make a profit by putting out a movie with a target audience of, let's say, less than 200,000 people, eventually people will begin to make such movies. And such movies will catch on in a very big way with their previously overlooked and entertainment starved intended audiences.

In some very small respects, this is starting to happen already. Recently NBC announced it is cutting its budget for dramatic television programs in order to invest in Internet programming. It stated as one of its reasons the fact that the popularity of YouTube is cutting into television viewership. Have you ever seen the production quality of most YouTube videos? Yuck. And they are less than 10 minutes in length. Yet they are stealing viewers from television productions with budgets in the millions of dollars.

Some television networks are now having success by offering their programing as on-demand streams off their websites. Here, too, is an instance of the public being willing to forego technological quality - in this case, for convenience. And, for now, these online streams help the networks as well because such viewers actually tend to watch the commercials. But don't the networks realize that they are actually participating in the process of their eventual destruction? Once most homes have fiber and can watch Internet video in the same quality as they can now with cable, why on earth would the producers of a soap opera or a sitcom need the websites of NBC, CBS or ABC? They could stream the program just as easily from their own websites. Why would there even be a need for a television network at all in a world of on-demand streams of programs?

This is the world that Hollywood is going to have to deal with in the future and it will open it up to all sorts of competition that it has never seen in its almost 100 year old history.

One of the things that does give me grounds for optimism in the future is what I see as the very possible end of what we have come to know as mass market popular culture that I think will result from all of this. The phenomenon of mass culture only goes back to around the 1910s and gained momentum with the advent of national radio networks in the late 1920s.

For decades, pretty much everybody across the country and even, to some degree, abroad, all watched more or less the the same television programs, the same movies, the same newscasts, read the same wire reports in the papers, listened to the same music, etc. Since all of these things were enormously expensive to produce, competition was limited. There were four radio networks and three television networks. There was a small handful of Hollywood studios. Even during the boom years of the 1920s, there were only about a dozen companies that recorded music. During the Depression, that was down to three. Since the 1950s, there have been lots of independent labels thus making it possible to buy a very wide variety of music. But, during that same period, popular success has been largely based on the ability to get air play on a relatively small handful of major AM and later FM stations.

Since the advent of mass media, the technical quality of its output has gone up and the aesthetic and journalistic value has gone down by more or less the same degree. Part of this, of course, has to do with the philosophical decline of the wider culture. But I think there are other factors at play that also enhance that trend. The economic barriers to entry tends to concentrate competition to a very small handful of players who tend to remain the same from decade to decade and their need to appeal to as wide an audience as possible, I think, creates risk adversiveness and opportunities for "orthodoxies" to develop. The need to appeal to the widest audience possible, I think, leads one down a certain logical path towards appealing towards an ever lower intellectual common denominator.

All of that has been under assault since the advent of cable TV in the 1980s and has accelerated since the advent of the Internet.

I think mass media popular culture is going to be replaced by countless numbers of subcultures each of which will be able to support their own full fledged music, entertainment and news venues. People will tend to participate in the two or three subcultures which most appeal to them - as I already do with the subcultures of Objectivists and early 1900s enthusiasts that are beginning to emerge online - and they will occasionally sample entertainment and informational offerings from other subcultures as well.

Eventually, I think you will see the results of this segmentation into smaller subcultures manifest itself in the attitude and manners of the people you encounter in real life. Once these subcultures become more defined, it will be easier and less expensive to market towards them, which will result in even more specialized product and entertainment offerings.

In the end, I think what young people will experience is not so much competition between media outlets and movie studios for their attention but rather competition between a great many viable subcultures competing for their imagination and loyalty. Of course, some of these subcultures are going to be very horrible and worse than what we see today in mainstream venues. But excellent subcultures will also be economically viable - and, I think in head-to-head competition, the best will ultimately win out. And, of course, what will define the identity of the various subcultures that will emerge to replace the mass media culture will be the wider ideas that animate them. And, for those like us who have better ideas to promote, I think this will be enormously beneficial.

Bottom line is I think the day where the ability of a handful of Ellsworth Tooheys to worm their way to positions of power in major media organizations and manipulate public opinion and the thinking of millions is drawing to a close. The Tooheys of the world will find themselves having to preach to their own choirs. Nor will everything be run by Gail Wynand types who measure success by the degree that they sell their souls to the mob. Those perceived (rightly or wrongly) as "sell outs" don't fare very well with specialized audiences - and my guess is Bob Tracinski, for example, could say a thing or two about that right now.

The impending death of the mass media and what I speculate will replace it is, of course, all made possible by recent technological advances and represents what I think is the most remarkable and exiting development in my lifetime. And I do think it gives rational people with good taste grounds for hope and optimism. In this sort of world, Hollywood will be a dinosaur - and perhaps that aspiring Objectivist writer with the really great and powerful screenplay sitting in a desk drawer will actually have a chance to see it produced.

Anonymous said...

Dismuke,

Wow! What a perceptive and fascinating post! Thanks so much for sharing your views.

Bill Visconti

Myrhaf said...

In the same amount of time, Dismuke could turn a comment like that into a blog post, but he doesn't want to blog. Which is fine, I can certainly understand anyone who is worried about the time commitment of a blog. Believe me, I worry about it myself. Every minute I spend on this blog is a minute I didn't spend playwriting.

Dismuke said...

Bill - Thanks for your very nice comment.

Myrhaf -

"In the same amount of time, Dismuke could turn a comment like that into a blog post, but he doesn't want to blog."


But actually, it would take me a lot more time. I think the points I made were interesting enough - otherwise, I wouldn't have made them. On the other hand, my posting is very long winded - and that is very typical of me both in person and when I write. And, as lengthy as it is, when I was writing it, I had to stop myself from going down a couple of other tangents that I thought were interesting and would be fun to explore. If I were to publish it for a wider audience, well, it would need a bit of editing down and to be brought into a sharper focus. And that is why it would not take the same amount of time.

I can type out such "stream of consciousness" type postings of whatever happens to be on my mind fairly quickly. But editing for me is a very slow and almost painful process. And it is even more difficult to do immediately after I just finished writing my draft - my brain is in the same long-winded mindset as when I wrote it. If I came back to it the next day, I would have a much easier time of editing it. But that significantly adds to the time it takes to turn it out.

Such postings are ok for message boards and blog comments - and even then, I sometimes get sharply criticized for being too long winded.

The other factor is that it is much easier to respond to someone else's posting within the context of that posting or other postings in a message board thread. If I were to have a blog, I would have to initiate the topic of discussion and it would be up to me to provide the wider context.

Providing context brings up another issue: who would be the blog's intended audience? Would it be aimed towards an Objectivist audience? If not - well, I would not be able to use the blog to post what's on my mind with regard to Objectivism simply because many of my readers would have little knowledge or interest in what I am talking about. And if I were to aim my postings towards an Objectivist audience - well, quite frankly, I go through periods when I temporarily become somewhat "anti-intellectual" and simply wish to live strictly in the moment and not even think about ideas and worry about what is wrong with the world and the direction it is going. I have to take an occasional vacation from that kind of stuff or else I would probably go bonkers. Sometimes that phase lasts a couple of days - sometimes it lasts a few months. For me to write about issues of interest to Objectivists during such a phase would be an enormous chore for me.

Also, if I blogged and wished to build up a readership (which I would) I would need to post on at least a semi-regular basis. And, if I had nothing on my mind that I really wanted to share - well, keeping it up-to-date would become a chore. As things are right now, as much as I love presenting vintage music on my website and through my online station, sometimes I simply don't feel like working on it - but I do so anyway because it is a long term project that I value. If I were to blog and were to take the blog seriously, I would need to have the same approach towards it and write when I don't feel like writing - and when one is in that position, writing IS time consuming.

Message board postings and blog comments provide me the best of all worlds. There are boards out there where most of what is on my mind is more or less on topic. Since it is informal, I don't have to worry too much about editing or being too long winded so long as I don't make a total ass of myself in that regard. And if I am not in the mood to post - well, I don't have to and the audience for that board will still be intact for the next time I do feel like posting.

One of the things I value about posting online is the ability to interact with other interesting people. Of course, I would still have that if I were to blog. But the role I would be in would be somewhat changed. I would basically be the host and I would need to act in a manner somewhat different than if I were just one of many regular members. I run a message board that is associated with my website and radio station - and, oddly enough, I rarely post there. As host, I don't think it would be appropriate for me to speak my mind about certain things to the degree I would if I were just a regular member and the people I was interacting with were not my guests.

I have no doubt that if I were willing to put in enough time, effort and mental focus, I could put out a very interesting and certainly unique sort of blog. I just have too much on my plate as it is - and I am soon to have even more if I can ever get certain things to come to fruition.

Anyhow - see what I mean about being long winded and tangential? Since this is but a blog comment, all I have ahead of me is to spell check it and give it a quick read through to at least make sure what I wrote makes sense. If I were posting my own blog - well, I would at least have to edit it some more and might very well end up throwing it out and starting from scratch.