Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Global Warming Denier States Underestimated the Threat of Avian Flu

A week ago, the Iowa Secretary of Agriculture claimed that avian flu wasn't going to be spreading.

From the Daily Iowan, a week ago today  (emphasis mine - DG):
Avian Flu not expected to spread in Iowa
The meat, eggs, and other products from millions of Iowa poultry infected with the H5N2 avian influenza won’t make it to the dinner table, but that’s not the only problem two infected farms could create for the state.
The H5N2 strain of avian influenza currently has not been found to transfer to humans in any way, Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey said Monday during a conference call.
He said the two Iowa farms that have confirmed cases of the highly pathogenic version of the avian flu could present problems for a variety of people. 
“There is other financial impact here as well,” he said. “Each [egg] layer will eat around one bushel per year of corn, so once these birds are euthanized, they won’t be using corn for a while.”
...The infected population includes 27,000 turkeys in Buena Vista County and 3.8 million egg-laying hens in Osceola County.
Northey said no other farms are currently under investigation and samples tested from farmers in those areas have all been negative.

“We believe this is not going from farm to farm,” he said. “We do not believe this is spreading in a way that is likely to create other problems on other farms.”
Yeah, THAT appears to be completely wrong, per this timeline update.
April 20 - The biggest outbreak so far as H5N2 is confirmed in 3.8 million egg-laying hens in Osceola county, Iowa. The finding in the country's top egg producing state prompts Mexico to expand its import ban to include live birds and eggs from Iowa.

April 27 - Iowa's Department of Agriculture and the USDA say initial tests have found probable bird flu outbreaks at five commercial poultry sites in Iowa containing more than 6 million birds. One site was confirmed as positive for HPAI a day later. If the other four are confirmed, the country's outbreak would reach more than 15.1 million birds, just short of the largest-ever U.S. avian influenza outbreak of 17 million birds in 1983 and 1984.

April 28 - The USDA confirms H5N2 in three more flocks, including a flock of 1.7 million chickens in Sioux county, Iowa, bringing the state's confirmed tally to more than 5.5 million birds. The three new confirmations lift the nationwide confirmed total to more than 11 million birds. (Reporting by Karl Plume in Chicago; Editing by Bernard Orr)
It remains to be seen how this avian flu outbreak progresses; some scientists expect it to continue to get worse.  Some scientists appear to be hoping that warmer weather might actually slow the outbreak and spread of avian flu, but lacking in confidence that this will be the case.  ALL of the scientists who have studied avian flu expect a big escalation of avian flu in the fall, when we have the migration of waterfowl from Canada heading south over the same ares, with additional concern that it will affect other bird populations including potentially pheasants.  This will in all probability lead to additional adverse affects not only in the ag sector, but in the tourism sector as it affects those who hunt both wild or domestic raised waterfowl, but also if it spreads to pheasants, which is already feared by those who raise pheasants for game preserve hunting (although shooting tame birds doesn't really seem like 'hunting' imho).

From, near the intersection of So.Dak, MN, and Iowa:
SPENCER, SD - South Dakota pheasant producers are closely watching the bird flu battle. They're concerned the strain that's already hit turkey and chicken farms might also infect their flocks.
Royal Flush Pheasants near Spencer, South Dakota raises about 10,000 pheasants every year.  Many of those birds end up in private hunting preserves.  An outbreak of bird flu could cost the Royal Flush a king's ransom.
Pheasants supply South Dakota's economy with a profitable nest egg.
"Cafes and restaurants and gas stations and hunting supply stores and that type of thing, it's a big business in South Dakota," Royal Flush Pheasants owner Denny Rowley said.
But these hardy and valuable ringnecks wouldn't stand a chance against the ravages of bird flu.
"A pheasant's a kind of tough bird, it's got cold winters, it's got hot summers, it's got pesticides, insecticides, you got guys shooting at it all the time, some coyote or fox is trying to eat it all the time, it's funny there's any of them here, you know," Rowley said.

The increasing cost of chicken and eggs, the decreasing supply of chicken and eggs, both in grocery stores and in restaurants, both sit down and fast food retailers, and the ripple effect of the avian flu on other sectors of our economy is very likely going to create greater problems reflecting in areas of wealth and income inequality, food insecurity, government cutbacks in food insecurity assistance, and in seasonal employment.

In other news, it has been incorrectly reported that Koch brothers' sock puppet Scott Walker declared a state of emergency in Wisconsin re: bird flu; what Walker actually did was write an executive order to send out a few National Guard troops to help distribute water to areas affected by avian flu.  What you WON'T find in Wisconsin is any reference to the role of global warming on the changing migration patterns of wild birds - a documented fact, as is that the original infections came from migrating wild birds; and you won't find any acknowledgement from Walker or any WI bureaucrat as to the role of global warming and the increase in pathogenicity in so-called 'high-path' avian flu strains spreading.

So far, the mainstream news has focused on relatively trivial issues, like the possible prohibition of poultry at the Minnesota state fair.  I predict that the problems associated with bird flu and with climate change / global warming as it affects US exports and US food supplies, and US public health concerns, is going to be a much more significant set of issues for the 2016 presidential race, senate races, and state level races than is currently predicted.  Most of all, I would expect that the division between global warming deniers and those who recognize the reality of the science as predictions become fact will  result in significant swings in our national, regional, state and local politics.  We are at a point where the impact which to many had seemed theoretical is now becoming real, in people's back yards and gocery carts.  Deniers are going to be finding themselves on the hot seat, and that hot seat is only going to get hotter for them.  Look forward to the (metaphorical) smoke of roasting conservative political tushies on the grill coming to politics near you. (Hint, it smells a bit like burning pork, only more acrid and acrimonious.)

RIP Patrick Howe

We mourn the passing of one of our blogosphere friends, in France, Patrick Howe, aka Microdot.

His blog was always funny, creative, frequently insightful, witty without being pedantic.  Thank you to my fellow blogging partner here, Laci the dog, for introducing me to Patrick, and for notifying me of his death after a sudden and serious illness.

RIP, Patrick; at 65 you left us way too soon. Adieu, mon ami.

Friday, April 24, 2015

It's Friday!

My favorite from this week and last week.


Lynch -- finally confirmed! Yipppeee! A momentary hiccup in Republican obstructionism and failure to govern!


Thursday, April 23, 2015

Breaking News! AG Lynch confirmed by the Senate!!

More details will be forthcoming!

From the announcement, courtesy of Sen. Amy Klobuchar:

"The Senate just voted 56-43 to confirm her as the next Attorney General."

At last.

Update: Governor declares Avian Flu State of Emergency

No surprise, we have more bird flu in Minnesota, not only among turkey farms but now outbreaks at chicken farms. Governor Dayton is releasing additional resources to combat the spread, up to and including making the National Guard units available to help.

Gov. Mark Dayton has declared a state of emergency in Minnesota in response to the bird flu outbreak, which has claimed the lives of 2.6 million turkeys and has now spread to a chicken farm for the first time in the state.
The Star Tribune reports that the governor’s order activates “an emergency operations plan” to provide support to attempts to quell the outbreak, and also says that National Guard personnel can be mobilized if necessary.
It comes after chicken producer J&A Farms, near Detroit Lakes in northwestern Minnesota, became the first chicken farm in the state to confirm an infection of the deadly H5N2 virus, KSTP reports. The farm has 275,000 hens.
Earlier on Wednesday, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) reported the bird flu’s presence in 13 additional turkey flocks in Minnesota. That brought the state’s overall total to 44 across 15 counties.
The deadly avian flu has spread to 13 more Minnesota turkey farms, bringing the total number of birds affected to more than 2.5 million, the state Board of Animal Health announced.

...Since the outbreak of the virus in early March, 7.1 million turkeys and egg-laying chickens have been affected across the Midwest, The Associated Press reports.

Chicken operations in Iowa and Wisconsin have also been hit by the bird flu. There are 16 states now coping with the disease in commercial bird operations.
National media is running headlines that McDonalds may experience supply problems, with 'Chicken Mcnuggets as rare as hen's teeth'. I don't eat them, but it occurs to me that might be the only silver lining of a serious global warming related economic disaster to our state and regional economies. It is beginning to dawn on people that this will affect not only the price of turkey and chicken meat, but also the price of eggs -- and presumably therefore a variety of the 'golden starches' breakfast menu items as well as the nuggets.

The economic impact goes far further afield than just fast food retailers. The BBC is reporting protests against ongoing trade negotiations for US ag products to be marketed in Europe as a result of this outbreak. As with past food safety and disease issues, such as the mad cow problems of some years back, a variety of nations are banning the shipment of poultry products while this epidemic continues. having the reputation of unsafe or disease-ridden products is of course detrimental to the long term economic strength of our ag industry sector, and a serious concern for the entire country.
The head of the World Organisation for Animal Health tells us why this latest outbreak of bird flu has come as such a shock to US industry. Also, as the latest round of negotiations towards a new trade pact between Europe and the US get under way, we report on the opposition to the proposals, at a protest attended by Vivienne Westwood in London.
I documented here, on the 2015 celebration of Earth Day why this outbreak of avian flu is an issue of global warming, and the cause and effect link to rising temperatures and the spread of these kinds of disease, among both wildlife and domesticated animals, directly affecting our food supply and the affordability of the food we eat (not just fast food). From the STrib
DES MOINES, Iowa — Some international trade partners are declining to buy egg and poultry products from states affected by a deadly strain of bird flu while others are excluding imports only from counties where the virus has surfaced.

Agriculture officials say the food supply is safe. But Mexico, Japan and Canada are among 33 countries declining to accept poultry products from entire states, including Iowa, the nation's leading egg producer, and Minnesota, the top turkey grower in the U.S.

Other countries, including Hong Kong, limit the ban to counties where the virus has been confirmed.
Conservatives, who as a group receive enormous amounts of funding both directly and indirectly from fossil fuel sources, refuse to address the issue and actively obstruct others from addressing it.

 Most recently we have a member of our state legislature doing exactly that, on the floor of the lege, while following the classic tactic of pretending that conservatives are somehow victims and martyrs for believing things which are factually false - and seriously dangerous to all of us. I would further posit that it is precisely to take positions that are factual and objective that these legislators are elected, and NOT to be faith based or phantasy driven in writing legislation, voting or formulating policy. Hat tip to Bluestem Prairie and the Uptake for the video and news item on Rep. Jim Newberger, R-Becker. 

This is EXACTLY what we do NOT need or want in response to the challenges of global warming. This is the kind of failure to act and failure to think that is why we must oppose conservatives in any position of authority at any level of government, because of failing to address these issue in a manner that is rational, that is objective, that values science not religion as the basis for action. If we wanted whining, we'd look for two year olds who missed their nap time.

Rep. Newberger grow a pair, and act your age. You and the rest of the lege were elected to deal with these issues, to voice your opinions BASED ON FACTS NOT FAITH, and to do something about these kinds of problems on behalf of the citizens of Minnesota. Pull up your big boy pants, buckle up your belt and if necessary add a pair of suspenders, but ditch the crap about being a victim. DO SOMETHING about the very real problems of global warming; they are on our doorstep, right there where you live in Sherburne County. But don't kid yourself - something I suspect Newberger does often; the effects of this problem go much further afield than just Sherburne County, or the state boundaries, or even the national boundaries. We can't afford the kind of political and ideological driven denial that we see next door in Wisconsin, courtesy of Koch brothers' puppet Scott Walker as he trashes the state of Wisconsin, including by prohibiting any references or planning related to global warming.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

It's Earth Day and the News is NOT GOOD;
I hate tick and mosquito season

A blood engorged Wood Tick, or maybe just
a fossil fuel donation engorged Republican

On the recent news feeds one of the series of stories, not only here in Minnesota, but also in Iowa and other states have involved the very costly incidence of avian flu outbreaks in both turkey and chicken industrial operations (as distinct from smaller family farms that do not use intensive ag practices that are both unhealthy and inhumane). As of April 16th, there were millions of dollars in losses, with outbreaks involving 26 farms in Minnesota, spread across 14 counties, with additional outbreaks occurring in North Dakota.  Minnesota is the largest turkey producer in the United States, with sales worldwide that are affected by these outbreaks, costing our state economy an as yet untold millions of dollars.

Those outbreaks of avian flu, fortunately this time not a zoonotic variety (infection that is transferable between multiple species, including humans, such as swine flu or bubonic plague) are resulting in huge losses as those entire operations require every animal, regardless of sick or healthy, to be euthanized.

This is not the first of these outbreaks, not only in the central 'fly over' states (literally), but occurring in other parts of the country and in other parts of the world.  The most recent outbreaks appear to be along the migratory flight paths of wild birds, which are also affected but not on the same scale of epidemic outbreaks as those of domestic intensive ag operations.

That appears to be because of the inherently unhealthy crowding of industrial ag operations, where birds that are crowded together so closely they cannot lie down or turn around creates inherently more contagion.

But another factor in this disease spread and in the spread of other diseases to multiple species appears to be global warming.  This is not new, this is not a surprise, this has long been predicted as part of the effects of global warming, on disease, on human beings and other species, as well as on plants that are essential food crops, above and beyond the problems of growing seasons changing, drought and flooding, extreme weather increases and increased frequency of episodes of serious wild fires.

A few examples of the scientific articles predicting these kinds of problems:

What will climate change mean for infectious disease?

BMJ 2013; 347 doi: (Published 25 November 2013) Cite this as: BMJ 2013;347:f6713
Projecting the impact of global environmental change on patterns of infectious disease is not simply a matter of plotting a rise in predicted temperature change and correlating that with the temperature and geographic range of a pathogen. Disease resides within a complex ecosystem, natural and manmade, which influences whether and how it might become manifest. Our knowledge of these systems is frustratingly limited and incomplete.
As an example, many tropical diseases are temperature dependent for both the pathogen and its vector, often mosquitoes. They thrive only above a certain threshold, speeding their lifecycle as the temperature rises. “It can have a huge difference on [sic] transmission dynamics,” says Jonathan Patz, director of the Global Health Institute at the University of Wisconsin.
Researchers have compared mosquito maturation in huts in forested areas with their maturation in huts in deforested areas. The difference in temperature was just a few degrees but the percent of insects that transitioned from larva to adulthood jumped from 65% to 82%, and the time to development was cut from 9 to 8 days. According to Patz, the result was a much greater population of mosquitoes to transmit malaria, dengue, or other diseases.

As an example, there is a re-emergence of Dengue fever in Florida.
For those of you not familiar with Dengue fever:

Dengue fever (UK /ˈdɛŋɡeɪ/ or US /ˈdɛŋɡiː/), also known as breakbone fever, is a mosquito-borne tropical disease caused by the dengue virus. Symptoms include fever, headache, muscle and joint pains, and a characteristic skin rash that is similar to measles. In a small proportion of cases the disease develops into the life-threatening dengue hemorrhagic fever, resulting in bleeding, low levels of blood platelets and blood plasma leakage, or into dengue shock syndrome, where dangerously low blood pressure occurs. ...As there is no commercially available vaccine, prevention is sought by reducing the habitat and the number of mosquitoes and limiting exposure to bites....Dengue has become a global problem since the Second World War and is endemic in more than 110 countries.

So we have new USA outbreaks of Dengue fever, which like Ebola, is or at leat can be hemorrhagic. And of course there are many varieties and they mutate, making it difficult to treat.

But it's not only migratory birds, or mosquitoes, that are some of the early front line victims of global warming changes. We have a problem with both microbes and other parasites as well. Most Minnesotans are conversant with the problems of the tick borne Lyme disease, carried by the dear tick. Fewer Minnesotans are familiar with the taxonimic name of the dear tick, Ixodes (variously dammini and scapularis) or the scientific name for Lyme disease (named for Lyme county Connecticut), which is borrelia bergdoreri, aka Lyme Borreliosis. Fewer are familiar with diseases like West Nile, that are also mosquito borne, and which have caused illness and death, and which in addition to affecting people and birds, have affected horses in Minnesota. Horses are not only pets, they are a significant sector of Minnesota agriculture.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

At 4:20, 4/20, Rally to Legalize Marijuana at the state Capitol

It is time to follow the example of Colorado and other states, in being progressive about marijuana the way we have been progressive about the minimum wage and gay marriage. Marijuana is NOT a 'gateway drug'; that is obsolete thinking, as science has shown us that both tobacco and alcohol have greater roles in leading to subsequent heavy use of drugs, and stronger drugs.

In that context, there was a rally at the Minnesota Capitol to push for full legalization, not just limited medical marijuana legalization which goes into effect in July of this year.

We need to further explore the potential to control the component ingredients of marijuana, and we need to address the racial disparity in arrests. I would argue that we would all benefit from releasing prisoners in our corrections system who are non-violent criminals with only marijuana possession convictions. African American and Hispanics are disproportionately arrested while it is affluent white people who are in fact the biggest users of marijuana (and other drugs).

More than 100 million people have used marijuana at least once; our total population of 321,000,000; making users of pot as slightly less than 1/3 of the population.

People of color are 11 arrested for marijuana use or possession ELEVEN TIMES more often than white people, in spite of the fact that they actually represent a smaller percentage of users of pot.  The graph below is from the NORML blog, reflecting federally gathered statistics:

Racial / Ethnic breakdown of only American adults who have used cannabis

Monday, April 20, 2015

It's 4/20, aka Cannabis Day:Colorado, Pot, and Guns

is also the anniversary of the Columbine massacre in Colorado in 1999.  Colorado has legalized marijuana consumption, two years ago.  Other states and jurisdictions are following suit.  At the same time there have been attempts to move forward legislation all over the country variously to make guns as easy to purchase and carry as pot is in Colorado.  There is no public consumption of cannabis permitted in public in Colorado, or other jurisdictions, while conservative and libertarians have pushed for very liberal public display and to some degree more liberal use of firearms.

As a curious intersection of those two very different events, it is worth noting that one of the reasons given for the massacre death toll not being higher is that 4/20 was both a senior skip day, and a day when students cut class to go smoke pot.

From the Denver Post online:
The day is known in circles as "4-20'' - when students around the country skipped school to smoke marijuana. Aside from it having been April 20, the police code for a drug bust in Los Angeles is also 4-20.

"This is the big day for (smoking marijuana),'' said Columbine student Jason Greer, 16.
Anecdotal evidence suggests that both of the Columbine shooters were at least occasional pot smokers.
Did Eric & Dylan smoke weed? If so, was there proof?
Yes they did, and some friends and a coworker said they believed they did harder drugs too (but there’s no proof they actually did.) As for weed, there is proof. Witnesses say that they saw and/or joined them smoking weed in the smoker’s pit at school. On Eric’s survey, he said that his favorite thing to do on the weekend was “get stoned.” And, friends of theirs such as Chris Morris and Cory Friesen, said that they did indeed smoke weed. :)
Kliebold and Harris, the Columbine shooters and bombers, appear to have had a very easy time acquiring both illegal firearms through the assistance of straw purchasers, and illegal pot (also bomb-making components for 99 bombs).

Looking at the available statistics in Colorado, post-pot legalization, there seems to be far less problems resulting from legal, easily available marijuana than there have been from easily obtainable firearms, legal or otherwise.

Colorado initiated tough gun control laws, in part as a response to mass shootings, not only Columbine, but also more recently the Aurora theater shootings.  Typically (although not exclusively) it is conservatives, usually the more extreme conservatives, who seek out the most lax gun control laws, while at the same time more conservatives oppose legal marijuana.

As noted by Colorado kwgn channel 2:
DENVER — State lawmakers  are debating seven Republican bills that are all aimed at reversing and loosening gun restrictions in Colorado.
Sponsors of the bills admit most of the gun proposals will be hard to pass, many are looking at one bill in particular that would allow teachers to carry a concealed weapon.
Victims of mass shootings were at the Capitol Monday discussing if arming teachers will make a difference.
One of them was Jane Dougherty. Her sister was killed in the Newtown Elementary School shooting. She doesn’t think teachers should be armed. “I heard that over the last two-and-a-half years that if my sister had a gun, she could have shot the shooter. It`s a fantasy, like a blockbuster movie script.”
Lawmakers are also debating a bill that would let people carry concealed firearms without a permit.

So far, the experiment in Colorado of legalizing pot, regulating and taxing it, and making it easily accessible in a wide variety of forms has made a positive contribution to the state economy.  In sharp contrast is the cost of gun violence from too easily obtained firearms and lax gun control.  While estimates vary, depending on, for example, if one includes only direct costs, or also indirect costs, but the drain on society and the economy is substantial.
As noted in the Scholars Strategy Network Key Findings Report, "Worries about Safety, the Real Price of Gun Violence", by Philip J. Cook and Jens Ludwig, Sanford School, Duke University, August 2012 (the month following the Aurora Colorado mass shooting):

Estimating the costs of gun violence may imply a dry accounting exercise, toting up medical expenditures and earnings lost due to injury. Some research has been done this way, equating the cost with the burden on the health care system or losses to the labor force. But this misses the main point. For most people safety is the issue – and that is especially true for families with children. Gun violence in our vicinity –or just splayed all over our screens –undermines our sense of security and wellbeing at a visceral level. For neighborhoods where gun violence happens all the time, the threat is a reality of everyday life and has a profound effect on how
people live and feel. Avoidance and prevention take many forms, from costly security in schools and public buildings, to private decisions to commute many miles for the sake of living in a safe neighborhood, or (for those who do not have that choice) to keep the kids inside on summer evenings.
If gun violence affects people’s subjective feelings about security, how do we measure the effects? Arriving at specific dollar estimates is not easy, yet it can be done. Economists have used several methods to place a value on public safety. One method is to correlate property values to the objective risk of victimization. But my colleague Jens Ludwig and I used a more straightforward “contingent valuation” method, which hadoften been used in other domains, and especially to place a value on wilderness, clean air, and other aspects of environmental quality. This approach recognizes that the monetary value of surrounding conditions can be estimated by asking people how much they would pay to get improvements.

Referring to earlier research, contemporaneous with the Columbine High School mass shooting,  the  above cited research concludes:

Our research allowed us to estimate the total cost of gun violence, as people perceived it. As of 1998, the total cost to Americans was on the order of $80 billion (given that 30% of 80 is 24.5). We also discovered that the perceived high cost of gun violence is much more widespread than statistics about direct victims of gun attacks would suggest. Poor people are the ones who disproportionately experience gunshot injuries and deaths from direct assaults. But the threat of gun violence reduces the quality of life for a broad cross-section of Americans. Even those who live in relatively safe neighborhoods know that they and their children and friends are not entirely immune – as we are reminded by both the local newscasts and, all too frequently, the shooting rampages that make the national news. Cost estimates of this sort can help policymakers and voters consider the relative importance of reducing gun violence in comparison with all of the other social problems that compete for the attention of our towns, cities, states, and national government.Placing a dollar value on enhanced safety may seem a bit mechanistic, but it brings into focus the value of paying to enhance safety by fighting gun violence in comparison with paying to improve schools, health care, and housing. Based on our results, gun violence deserves a fairly prominent place on the agenda.
Colorado "got it"; the entire nation should "get it":  there are enormous benefits to being less restrictive with pot, and to being more restrictive with guns.  That holds true even after you subtract the huge investment in political influence by the NRA on behalf of the gun manufacturers for more guns guns guns.  More guns and more lax gun laws equal greater costs, both economic and social.  More pot in contrast seems to be beneficial both financially and socially, in contrast, if not without some minor problems similar to those with legal and regulated alcohol.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Southern Poverty Law Center Warning of Right Wing Domestic Terrorism, Six Months Prior to the Bombing in OK City

h/t to SPLC on FB, see the full letter here:

Today is the 20th Anniversary of the Oklahoma City Bombing

It is worth remembering this bombing of the Edward R. Murrah building; 168 people died, some 680 others were injured.

It is worth remembering that the danger, the threat came not from outside our borders, not from Islamo-terrorists, but from home grown right wing nutters who hate their lawfully elected government and who hate large segments of their fellow Americans. 

These extremists are as big a threat now as they were twenty years ago; maybe more so.

These are the voices who want to "take back America", by which they mean to exclude and marginalize large segments of Americans from government, from the economy, and from society. They want to take control, either by skewing the electoral process to give them control, or by violent insurrection if that fails.

It is a thinly veiled code word, a dog whistle, for bias, bigotry, discrimination and exclusion. It is anti-equality.  It is anti-diversity.  It is anti-immigrant and anti-Native American.  It is anti-democracy.  It is anti-science.  It is anti-environment.  It is anti-education.  It is frequently anti-Semitic and racist, and anti-feminism and anti-children.  It is anti-labor and anti-Unions.  It is anti-regulation that prevents injury and unfair practices, excess and abuse.

It is pro-foreign war.  It is pro-violence against dissent, and pro-gun.  It is pro-theocracy and pro-religious superstition out of the dark ages.  It is pro-voter suppression.  It is pro-wealth and income inequality. It is pro-conspiracy theories.  It is pro-poverty.  It is pro-oligarch, and pro-free market / laissez-faire capitalism. It is pro-vigilanism.  It is pro-secrecy.

It is conservative, hard right conservative, like those who converged on the Cliven Bundy ranch and on a mine in Oregon.  It is an ideology of hate and suspicion, reminiscent of the worst of McCarthyism witch hunts.  It is irrationally fearful and reactive rather than pro-active.  It is short term oriented rather than long term oriented. 

It is fascist, hyper-patriotic, revisionist-history promoting, and authoritarian extremism.

It is anti-American.  It is dangerous to us ALL.

bombing victim, 'baby Bailey'

Edward R. Murrah building after bombing

Bombing Memorial

GOP -- party of the rich, party against ordinary every-day people

Remember this?

Then do not be surprised at this (h/t to teabonics on FB.) :

Saturday, April 18, 2015

The 240th anniversary of the Midnight Ride of Paul Revere, April 18th, 1775

Let's start with the facts, which are nothing like the popular fiction and poetry, and which is especially not the crazy tea bagger version Sarah Palin tried to promote.

Longfellow's famous poem is inaccurate, and long, but still enjoyable.
Listen my children and you shall hear
Of the midnight ride of Paul Revere,
On the eighteenth of April, in Seventy-five;
Hardly a man is now alive
Who remembers that famous day and year.

He said to his friend, “If the British march
By land or sea from the town to-night,
Hang a lantern aloft in the belfry arch
Of the North Church tower as a signal light,–
One if by land, and two if by sea;
And I on the opposite shore will be,
Ready to ride and spread the alarm
Through every Middlesex village and farm,
For the country folk to be up and to arm.”
It goes on for a considerable length.

The reality is that Revere was one of many riders, many of whom made it much further in giving the alarm than Revere.  Further, there is no basis for the quote that Revere was yelling "the British are coming, the British are coming".  Quite the opposite, Revere was notifying specific people, as quietly and surreptitiously as possible, trying NOT to let the British troops stationed in the area from being aware of that notification.  The popular inaccuracy completely misses the stealthy nature of this event.

From wikipedia, which did a good job of covering the actual, factual event, since this particular entry is so well researched and documented, and provides an excellent larger context:

In the days before April 18, Revere had instructed Robert Newman, the sexton of the North Church, to send a signal by lantern to alert colonists in Charlestown as to the movements of the troops when the information became known. In what is well known today by the phrase "one if by land, two if by sea", one lantern in the steeple would signal the army's choice of the land route while two lanterns would signal the route "by water" across the Charles River.  Revere first gave instructions to send the signal to Charlestown. He then crossed the Charles River by rowboat, slipping past the British warship HMS Somerset at anchor. Crossings were banned at that hour, but Revere safely landed in Charlestown and rode to Lexington, avoiding a British patrol and later warning almost every house along the route. The Charlestown colonists dispatched additional riders to the north.Riding through present-day Somerville, Medford, and Arlington, Revere warned patriots along his route, many of whom set out on horseback to deliver warnings of their own. By the end of the night there were probably as many as 40 riders throughout Middlesex County carrying the news of the army's advance. Revere did not shout the phrase later attributed to him ("The British are coming!"): His mission depended on secrecy, the countryside was filled with British army patrols, and most of the Massachusetts colonists (who were predominantly English in ethnic origin) still considered themselves British.   Revere's warning, according to eyewitness accounts of the ride and Revere's own descriptions, was "The Regulars are coming out."   Revere arrived in Lexington around midnight, with Dawes arriving about a half hour later. They met with Samuel Adams and John Hancock, who were spending the night with Hancock's relatives (in what is now called the Hancock-Clarke House), and they spent a great deal of time discussing plans of action upon receiving the news. They believed that the forces leaving the city were too large for the sole task of arresting two men and that Concord was the main target.  The Lexington men dispatched riders to the surrounding towns, and Revere and Dawes continued along the road to Concord accompanied by Samuel Prescott, a doctor who happened to be in Lexington "returning from a lady friend's house at the awkward hour of 1 a.m."
Revere, Dawes, and Prescott were detained by a British Army patrol in Lincoln at a roadblock on the way to Concord.  Prescott jumped his horse over a wall and escaped into the woods; he eventually reached Concord. Dawes also escaped, though he fell off his horse not long after and did not complete the ride.
Revere was captured and questioned by the British soldiers at gunpoint. He told them of the army's movement from Boston, and that British army troops would be in some danger if they approached Lexington, because of the large number of hostile militia gathered there. He and other captives taken by the patrol were still escorted east toward Lexington, until about a half mile from Lexington they heard a gunshot. The British major demanded Revere explain the gunfire, and Revere replied it was a signal to "alarm the country". As the group drew closer to Lexington, the town bell began to clang rapidly, upon which one of the captives proclaimed to the British soldiers "The bell's a'ringing! The town's alarmed, and you're all dead men!"  The British soldiers gathered and decided not to press further towards Lexington but instead to free the prisoners and head back to warn their commanders.  The British confiscated Revere's horse and rode off to warn the approaching army column. Revere walked to Rev. Jonas Clarke's house, where Hancock and Adams were staying. As the battle on Lexington Green unfolded, Revere assisted Hancock and his family in their escape from Lexington, helping to carry a trunk of Hancock's papers. The ride of the three men triggered a flexible system of "alarm and muster" that had been carefully developed months before, in reaction to the colonists' impotent response to the Powder Alarm of September 1774. This system was an improved version of an old network of widespread notification and fast deployment of local militia forces in times of emergency. The colonists had periodically used this system all the way back to the early years of Indian wars in the colony, before it fell into disuse in the French and Indian War. In addition to other express riders delivering messages, bells, drums, alarm guns, bonfires, and a trumpet were used for rapid communication from town to town, notifying the rebels in dozens of eastern Massachusetts villages that they should muster their militias because the regulars in numbers greater than 500 were leaving Boston with possible hostile intentions. This system was so effective that people in towns 25 miles (40 km) from Boston were aware of the army's movements while they were still unloading boats in Cambridge.
Unlike in the Powder Alarm, the alarm raised by the three riders successfully allowed the militia to confront the British troops in Concord, and then harry them all the way back to Boston.

Friday, April 17, 2015

A little Friday Fun Day

An animated political cartoon,

And a little mondo bizarro science, not just an every-day ordinary hair transplant, but the possible whole-head transplant onto a donor body.  Surgical candidate is Russian, with the surgery itself being touted as taking place either in China or the US.  It is appropriate that the donor of the head is Russian; because under Stalin, such weird things were done in animal experiments back in the 1950's.  Warning - this is graphic, this is disturbing, this is science unlimited by ethics.  There is also a Minnesota connection, to an American who took up the idea, Minnesotan Robert White.  From Stranger than Fiction:
One night in 1954, Demikhov undertook an experiment that stunned the world. He took two dogs, one fully grown, the other a puppy. He, and his team of surgeons, operated on them through the night. The following morning Demikhov unveiled his achievement. It was a creature straight out of science-fiction.

Two Headed Dog
A Very Blurry Two Headed Dog
He had stitched the head and upper-body of the puppy onto the neck of the larger dog, connecting their blood-vessels and windpipes. Soviet propaganda trumpeted his achievement. In America, this caught the attention of an ambitious young scientist: Robert White.
For an America in the grip of cold-war paranoia, the prospect of Russian two-headed dogs was too much to ignore. The United States would soon begin it's own head-transplant programme.

Robert White was born in Minnesota, in 1926. Like Demikhov, he was a veteran of World War 2. After the war, White attended Harvard Medical School, where he studied to be a brain surgeon.

Given the alleged trafficking in donor organs, including rumored surgical thefts of organs from prisoners, especially political prisoners, I'd bet on China as the location, if this ever takes place.  There might be too many medical ethics issues to overcome for this to take place in the United States.  Or at least, I hope there are.

Very reminiscent of some of the classic sci-fi.  Of course, in the story "I Will Fear No Evil" by Robert Heinlein, the surgery involved a brain transplant from a man into a woman, set in the early 21st century in which an aging rich  man's brain is transplanted into a young, beautiful, healthy body.   The IBTimes has excellent coverage for those who are not too squeamish.

Also not for the squeamish, the Heinlein novel "I Will Fear No Evil" was published in 1970, the same year a mad scientist did a monkey head transplant.  You can read about that here.

One of the several Zaphods brought to life
for the small screen, circa 1981
You can either consider it a novel conversation topic (pun on novel) for the weekend, or maybe just sufficiently macabre that you'll want to drink to get the notion out of your head.  If not that kind of escapism, then perhaps a happy retreat from the Gore (that's with an 'e') to the charms of A Hitchiker's Guide to the Galaxy, by the late, great Douglas Adams, featuring the inimitable Zaphod Beeblebrox?  As noted by wikipedia's entry for the character:
For the 2005 movie, it's hinted that Zaphod "created" the second head himself when shutting off the parts of his mind that contain portions of his personality that "are not presidential," but he wanted to keep these traits, so he hid his second head under his neck and wears a large collar or scarf to keep it hidden.

Great -- now every presidential candidate interview, every presidential debate in the next election cycle, I'll be thinking of Zaphod Beeblebrox, his two heads (and three arms),  transplanted monkey heads, classic UK sci-fi, and for no particular reason I would care to own in public, Bill Clinton. The entertainment possibilities are endless. Imagine any and all of the conservative whanna-bees with photoshopped monkey heads, for starters.  And of course, poo-flinging.  Lots of poo-flinging.

Yup, it's Friday Fun-day!  Or maybe freaky Friday? You decide.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Anti-Immigration Lies and the Fundamentals of Propaganda

There are three essential, defining characteristics of propaganda.

The first characteristic is that it is fully, substantially, or significantly false, not accidentally but deliberately inaccurate.

The second characteristic is that it elicits emotional thinking rather than logical or critical thinking. The emotions it is supposed to arouse are usually negative, most often fear and/or suspicion, anger, resentment or hatred, and intolerance and bias such as racism or anti-religious feeling leading to demonizing or demeaning an individual or group, or both, by linking them together.

The third characteristic is that it is part of a larger pattern demonstrating that it is part of a planned, intentional, calculated agenda that serves someone's purpose, usually political in nature, such as contrived wedge issues used to turn out voters. A perfect example of that would be the anti-gay marriage campaign issue used by Karl Rove and George W. Bush, for which the Bush campaign leadership later apologized, or the use of racial politics, dog whistle for ginning up racism, especially southern conservative racism.

A fourth characteristic, not as essential as the preceding three, but common, is to create a sense of belonging to an aggrieved group of people with shared negative feelings towards the individual or group targeted as the subject of the propaganda. Examples would be Islamophobic propaganda, anti-LGBT propaganda, and anti-immigrant or racist propaganda.

The following image from Face Book features all of the defining characteristics.

The clear implication is that Obama is offering preferential treatment in employment to undocumented immigrants, and that Obama is somehow responsible for anyone who is not employed.

This is factually inaccurate -- the first criteria or characteristic of propaganda.

From fact, back in 2010 (conclusions which continue to be true as supported by additional years of data and research):


Do immigrants take American jobs? It’s a common refrain among those who want to tighten limits on legal immigration and deny a "path to citizenship" — which they call "amnesty" — to the millions of immigrants living in the U.S. illegally. There’s even a new Reclaim American Jobs Caucus in the House, with at least 41 members.
But most economists and other experts say there’s little to support the claim. Study after study has shown that immigrants grow the economy, expanding demand for goods and services that the foreign-born workers and their families consume, and thereby creating jobs. There is even broad agreement among economists that while immigrants may push down wages for some, the overall effect is to increase average wages for American-born workers.

So, who are those economists, those experts?  What studies?

Nat Journal has some specifics, from 2013:

Left and Right Agree: Immigrants Don't Take American Jobs

March 22, 2013 As Congress considers immigration reform, experts across the political spectrum say American jobs are safe.
That immigrants take the jobs of American-born citizens is “something that virtually no learned person believes in,” Alex Nowrasteh, an immigration expert at the libertarian Cato Institute, said at a Thursday panel. “It’s sort of a silly thing.”
Most economists don’t find immigrants driving down wages or jobs, the Brookings Institution's Michael Greenstone and Adam Looney wrote in May. In fact, “on average, immigrant workers increase the opportunities and incomes of Americans,” they write. Foreign-born workers don’t affect the employment rate positively or negatively, according to a 2011 analysis from the conservative American Enterprise Institute. And a study released Wednesday by the liberal Center for American Progress suggests that granting legal status to undocumented workers might even create jobs.
The CAP study, led by the visiting head of the Washington College economics department, sought to predict what would happen under immigration reform. The researchers considered a handful of scenarios. In each, it was presumed that the nation’s 11 million undocumented immigrants would be immediately granted legal status. They then looked at the effect of those undocumented immigrants not being granted citizenship at all over a decade, getting it immediately, or getting it in five years.
Legal status alone would lead to the creation of 121,000 extra jobs annually over the next 10 years, they found. Getting citizenship within five years would increase that to 159,000 jobs per year. And receiving both legal status and citizenship this year would create an extra 203,000 jobs annually.

So, clearly NOT FACTUAL; tick off the first requirement of propaganda.

Undocumented people STEALING American jobs? That gins up fear, resentment, anger, a sense of being victimized, especially if you accept the premise without fact checking or critical thinking. Tick the box for the second requirement of propaganda as well; this propaganda creates the perception of a threat.

This kind of propaganda is rife on the internet, routine on right wing sources like F*cks News, and other right wing 'media' and right wing politicians.  For example we have this from Sarah Palin, via the propaganda site
To make matters worse, Palin said that the “forgotten man” who cannot catch a break will now see their tax dollars go to help take care of illegal immigrants while they are forced to compete with them for shrinking resources and jobs.

And we have Ted Cruz, presidential candidate in the running for the 2016 election, making the same claim as Palin -- and while Palin is an empty-headed dunce, clearly Cruz knows, or should be expected to know that his claims about joblessness is a lie.  Cruz is well educated, but all too willing to pander to the worst elements on the right.
From the Washington Examiner:

Ted Cruz: Immigration will increase US joblessness

But March organizers — including the Black American Leadership Alliance and Tea Party groups — do support curbing legal immigration, saying it could take jobs away from “millions of American citizens.” Cruz also claimed the Senate immigration reform would cost Americans’ jobs but without specific reference to legal immigrants.
“If this bill is passed, it will increase unemployment,” Cruz, R-Texas, said. “If this bill is passed it will increase African American unemployment. If this bill is passed it will increase youth unemployment. If this bill is passed it will increase Hispanic unemployment.”

Palin and Cruz are just two of many pushing this propaganda lie, giving us the third criteria of propaganda, that it is repetitive in serving a larger, calculated agenda; tick off that box as well.

And lastly, we see the demonizing of immigrants (both documented and undocumented)and the link to the president in an attempt to discredit him, and to portray both immigrants and President Obama as the enemy, as the villain, as the bad guys, when they are the opposite factually.

We have conservatives banding together in their ignorant, manipulated animosity. Tick off the fourth box identifying the criterion of propaganda.

Propaganda is the tool of tyrants and dictators, of the corrupt in power, or seeking power.  It is propaganda and those manipulated by it, not immigrants, that is the enemy of democracy and of America.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Take some responsibility

Thank you Abraham Lincoln, thank you liberal abolitionists who saw injustice and pushed back against it.

We're not done yet. It's better. But we are not done yet.

Conservatives - consistently on the wrong side of history

I can name one exception; it was a Republican woman (a fairly conservative one, although more of an elite than tea bagger type) who initiated the movement for the repeal of Prohibition.  But that was before the Republicans were so consistently just nuts.

Today is the 150th Anniversary of the Assassination of President Abraham Lincoln

Today is the anniversary of the assassination of our president by traitors to the United States as part of their attempt to wage war on America.  Lincoln was one of the early Republicans, back when the GOP was liberal.  I doubt he would recognize the party he helped found today.

Remember this treason AS BLOODY TREASON every time you see a confederate flag of any variety.  Remember this every time you see or hear or read about some jackasses who want to secede, especially by violence, or who try to deny the existence or legitimacy of the federal government (like Cliven Bundy and his ilk).

Wide-brimmed, tall top hat with band around it
The silk top hat worn by Abraham Lincoln wore to Ford's Theater on the night of the assassination.
From the National Museum of American History, the Smithsonian:
Among the museum's most treasured objects in the Lincoln collection, and certainly its most iconic, is his silk hat. At six feet four inches tall, Lincoln towered over most of his contemporaries. He chose to stand out even more by regularly wearing high top hats.
Lincoln famously stored papers inside the crowns of his hats, removed them humbly when speaking to constituents, and threw them down in front of generals to emphasize his anger. On April 4, 1865, Lincoln toured the fallen Confederate capital, Richmond, Virginia. A writer for the Atlantic Monthly recorded that Lincoln was approached by an elderly African American man who removed his hat and bowed before the President. Lincoln in turn, "removed his own hat, and bowed in silence; but it was a bow which upset the forms, laws, customs, and ceremonies of centuries. It was a death-shock to chivalry, and a mortal wound to caste."
Lincoln acquired this silk hat from J. Y. Davis, a Washington hat maker, whose label appears inside the crown. The hat, approximately a modern size 7 1/8, is trimmed with two bands, a thin 3/8" ribbon with a small metal buckle and a 3" grosgrain black mourning band. The stitching on the second band indicates that it had been added after the hat had been purchased and signaled Lincoln's ongoing mourning for his son Willie, who died of typhoid fever on February 20, 1862. In a very public way, Lincoln was linking his loss with the losses of so many during the war. We do not know when he purchased the hat, or how often he wore it. We do know that the last time he put it on was to attend the play, Our American Cousin, at Ford's Theatre on April 14, 1865.
The Lincolns and their two guests, Clara Harris and Major Henry Rathbone, arrived late. When the party took their seats in the presidential box, the crowd wildly cheered and the orchestra played "Hail to the Chief." Lincoln removed his hat and the actors resumed the play where they had left off.
At about 10:15 p.m., John Wilkes Booth entered the box, pointed a derringer pistol at the back of the president's head, and fired. Fatally wounded, Lincoln was carried across the street to the home of William Petersen where he would die at 7:22 the next morning. The hat was left behind in the presidential box. The War Department that guarded the theatre recovered the hat, along with the chair used by Lincoln, and took the items back to its offices.
Once the trial of Booth's co-conspirators had concluded, the two items were no longer held as evidence, and the War Department transferred the hat and chair to the Interior Department to be safely stored with other national relics that the department maintained at the U.S. Patent Office. The hat was briefly exhibited next to a case with George Washington relics. In 1867, the Smithsonian Institution received the delivery from the Patent Office of Lincoln’s hat and chair. No one at the Smithsonian recorded the actual date.

read more here

Cruzin' for Losin'

Monday, April 13, 2015

Flag Propgaganda 4: Olympia, Washington and Old Glory......and the Chinese flag

Once again, the rational adults effectively and conscientiously engaged in administration and governance are unfairly maligned by right wing nut propaganda.

The local Kitsap Sun from the Puget Sound area of Washington covered it pretty well, but then local media usually does a pretty good job of professional, ethical journalism, unlike the right wing propaganda machine.  A h/t to Steven Gardner; this is exemplary blogging.

I first learned of the controversy from a Facebook thread started by Mason County Republican Party Chairman Travis Couture, who asked, “So can someone please explain to me why the hell we are flying a communist Chinese flag at our capitol? (Rhetorical) We cant have a ‘Christmas’ tree or a Gadson flag but we can have a communist flag?”

As for the tree question, that call is made by the Association of Washington Business, because it’s their tree and it’s part of a fundraiser they’ve been doing for kids for 26 years, according to this story from the (Spokane) Spokesman-Review.I asked state officials from the governor’s office and from the Department of Enterprise Services some additional info. Some on Facebook are asking about flag protocol.

Smith sent me a list of other nations’ flags that have flown in the same place for the same reasons. Here they are.

Austria 2015
Finland 2015
Germany 2014
Peru 2014
United Kingdom 2014
Japan 2013 and 2014
India 2013
Italy 2013
Canada 2013

We also received a detailed explanation from Smith on the flag’s placement and the criteria for when a foreign flag gets raised.

“We fly the flag of a foreign country in the Flag Circle when a high level government representative of a country recognized by our government meets with a statewide official. Countries like Iran and North Korea are not recognized and we would not fly their national flag under any circumstance.

“The US government formally recognizes countries. A state does not. In 1980 the United States formally recognized the People’s Republic of China.

“International flag standards and the flag code of the United States specifically state that the flags of sovereign nations need to be flown from separate staffs and at equal height. No national flag should be higher than any other national flag. State flags and banners are different.

“When the US and other national flags are flown together, the U.S. flag should be in the position of honor and to the right of other flags. We orient our flags to the north steps of the Legislative building as the prominent feature of the most significant building. So looking at the flags from the steps, the U.S. flag is always to the right and a foreign flag is to its left. If you look at the flags from the Temple of Justice, however, it looks backwards. The flags have been oriented in this way for more than 20 years. With the flags in the conference room they are oriented to whomever is speaking at the podium, so to the speaker’s right, but audience’s left.”

Lets let the HuffPo set up the scenario of this not-a-real-story, right-wing-flag-propaganda. It is a classic, has all the flag propaganda elements -- a story circulated (at least at first) by exclusively right wing media, claiming some terrible disrespect to our flag that demonstrates very visually and viscerally that THOSE PEOPLE, from whom they have to retake our nation, THOSE PEOPLE who are out to DESTROY AMERICA, or some variation of that theme, are subverting patriotism and our very national soul (or at least identity) by doing something bad re: the stars and stripes. A recurring theme is to associate an inaccurate attack on another popular right wing sore spot - religion, or veterans are the two most common, with some imaginary concentration camp reference thrown in gratuitously.  This has two of the usual.  A falsified sense of being victimized is essential to the propaganda process.

Invariably the story is not factually true, is misrepresented, and does not deserve any media attention whatsoever except in the delusional minds of tin foil hat wearing right wing nut (RWN for short). Usually there is some unwarranted and unjustified attack on a "liburl fascist, Marxist, Socialist, Communist politician" made by some RWN who could not correctly identify what any of those adjectives actually mean, other than "bad" (one of the few words teabaggers can reliably spell, so they don't use it).
The Washington state capitol put up the Chinese flag last week in honor of Gov. Jay Inslee's (D) trade meeting with Cui Tiankai, China's ambassador to the United States. But on Saturday morning, a small group of tea party activists went and protested the flag, outraged that it was flying alongside the U.S. and state flags.
A video posted by conservative activist Maria Bosworth showed the individuals -- some carrying the Gadsden flag that has become a symbol of the tea party movement -- watching as the Chinese flag was lowered. A man who appears to be a state trooper stands nearby and observes the proceedings.
One participant, who appears to be conservative activist Anthony Bosworth, Maria's husband, points to him and says, "Now that's an Oath Keeper there, making sure the Communist flag comes down. That's an officer that I can support."

The Oath Keepers is a right-wing group of current and former law enforcement and military officers who vow to disobey "unconstitutional" orders from the government. There is no evidence that the officer was actually an Oath Keeper.

Anthony Bosworth also posted photos from the event on his Facebook page and put up a post about Washington state's "liberal, communist loving Governor."

Jaime Smith, Inslee's director of media relations, said it was simply a matter of protocol to fly the Chinese flag. State workers were lowering the flag while the protesters watched.
"The governor will often meet with dignitaries when they come to town. It's a matter of protocol to fly their home country's flag during their visit," said Smith. "Our state's Department of Enterprise Services was going to lower the flag shortly after that anyway."
>Some Republican politicians were also not pleased with the flag's appearance.

"I was not amused to see this flag flying over our state capitol, particularly when our governor just made a big show out of ‘shaming’ Indiana for joining 19 other states with legislation to protect freedom of conscience," state Rep. Elizabeth Scott (R) told the conservative website PolitiStick. "So it’s okay to threaten a flower shop owner in our state with the loss of her house, business, etc., and we can mock other states for their attempts to protect freedom of conscience, but we’re totally fine flying the flag of a country that still throws people into prison camps because of their beliefs?"

The American flag was NOT by conventional protocol in any way treated with disrespect by flying the Chinese flag (and the Washington state flag) alongside and at the same height as the United States flag. Arguably it was showing far more respect than those who like to fly the various treasonous flags of the Confederacy, celebrating a bloody, traitorous attack on the United States. But Americans wrongly attacking other Americans is one of the hallmarks of the radical, ridiculous right.  I suppose we should be happy this is one occasion where they didn't use guns to kill anyone.

It is worth noting that after the Chinese flag came down -- and the state of Washington is eager to do business with China, in spite of the ignorant bitching by the idiots present at the flag lowering -- the Chinese flag was replaced by other national flags, notably Austria and Finland, and on Tartan Day, the flag of Scotland was flown as well.

So, contrary to say....F*cks News, or the dumbest people on the internet over at The Gateway Pundit, there was nothing wrong or bad or unpatriotic going on. And no, no Patriots fixed the situation, taking back 'Murika for Murikans' either. It was just a bunch of right wingers having an inappropriate hissy fit that became another example in the ongoing bullshit the right promotes to keep their incredibly ignorant, ill-informed and immature base ginned up and manipulated to dance like predictable angry little wooden-headed puppets. Watch them dance, watch their little wooden heads be manipulated to vote the right wing propaganda way, and to give the nice right wing propaganda people (or their candidates) all their hard earned money.

It would be funny if it were not that these manipulated and misinformed and disinformed right wingers act, and vote, and sincerely believe nonsense, based on lies. Time for someone to give them a metaphorical kick in the rear end and demand that the crazies start acting like rational adults.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Left out of this list -- paid off the substantial war debt for WW II

Flag propaganda 3: Conyers, Georgia and Old Glory

We have, almost on cue, another couple of flag propaganda stories.  Flag propaganda stories are where the right wing propaganda 'machine' cranks out stories designed to gin up outrage, and to create an us vs them mentality.  This is essential for any call to 'take back America' to work in the 2016 election cycle, because unless there is a segment of America to hate, there is no one to oppose vehemently or violently.  The story and the propaganda agenda needs a villain, a bad guy, a Snidely Whiplash with a flag.

These stories are really not news; they are given a slant and an emphasis that the subject content does not merit, and then they are reported in a biased and incomplete and inaccurate way to create the desired manipulative effect.  They are generated on a regular basis, the predictable repetition of the big lie being told over and over until it is taken as true, when it is false.  I started looking for the 'next' flag propaganda story a week ago, figuring once the Easter holiday was over, given the candidate declarations (specifically the KIND of declaration they made) that we would be seeing more flag propaganda.

The right wing propaganda manipulators did not disappoint.

73-Year-Old Veteran Is Ordered to Remove His American Flag From Flag Pole Outside His Home–REFUSES

73-year-old Tony Cumberworth fought for our country in Vietnam and in his own words is a “proud veteran.” But that didn’t stop a homeowner’s association in his Georgia neighborhood from demanding that he remove his flag pole and U.S. flag from his yard.
Cumberworth’s flag and pole has been in his yard for 20 years and never once has he had a complaint. But this week the association sent him a notice that if he didn’t remove his flag and flag pole he would be charged $50 a day in fines until he does.
The veteran told the TV folks that he scoured the association’s contract and could find no mention of flags and flag poles in it.
And asked by a local TV news station, this proud veteran said he refused to remove his flag.
He also proudly proclaimed that he wouldn’t pay these people a penny for his flag.
When the local TV folks started asking members of the homowner board what they heck their problem was… well, unsurprisingly they refused to talk about it. But the did suddenly send Cumberworth an email saying…
Please disregard the code violation notice. It was sent to your home in error.
We truly thank you for your service in Vietnam and your American flag can stay in your yard as long as you desire.
Yeah. “A mistake.” BS. They just got called out is all.
This was never a real story.  There does not appear to EVER have been a notice sent to this man specifically about his flag or flag pole.

You can easily tell a real story from a fake story, because of the lack of details (we do not know for example if there was a mass mailing to HOA members about displays), and most of all because it will pop up exclusively on many right wing sources, always the same propaganda machine members, but not in legit news.  I was struck with this story by the absence of the content of the notice to Cumberworth, and the absence of an inquiry as to anyone else receiving a routine notice about displays.  It seems highly improbable to me that after 20 years, suddenly a flag and flag pole would be non-compliant with HOA rules; rather it is more likely this was a semi-regular generic notice.  It also explains why the HOA has no idea what this fuss was all about, and it is consistent with the pattern of flag propaganda.
Typically the way these stories go is that a false narrative is started on the right, on sites with no journalistic ethics or professional standards, and where accuracy and equal coverage of more than one side, and multi-sourcing are ignored in favor of a manipulative agenda that consistently misinforms and misleads.  Their hope is that legitimate media might notice, and then become curious -- which is what appears to have happened in this case.
Home Owners Associations are not a threat to America (however petty they might sometimes be.)  But they are not anti-American; rather they get tasked with issues like changing civil ordinances relating to boring, tedious issues like fire department access and other minutiae like the size and type of displays.  Home Owners Associations are not government, they are voluntary groups.  At no point did the HOA refuse to answer questions.  They offered to get back to the media with specifics because the person queried did not have an immediate answer available about this particular complaint.
HOA try to manage issues like dealing with how well maintained lawns are kept in order for everyone who belongs to the HOA to keep up the value of their properties.  This is about the people who annoy their neighbors by still having up their Christmas displays in July including scruffy looking snow men, or similar behavior, not insidious attacks on patriotism, or the favorite manipulative touchstone of the propagandist, the grumpy old veteran.
This should never have INVOLVED television crews.  There is no evidence whatsoever that the HOA was unreasonable or unresponsive in promptly correcting their errors; it would not surprise me to see that these emails are sent out routinely any time someone complains.  What does appear to be involved is that some old codger, who did not really have a significant problem, got undeserved attention for a non-issue.
There is no attack on America; there is no insidious movement of unpatriotic Americans (OR maybe secret foreigners like our falsely alleged Kenyan president) attempting to do dirt to the flag or those who are patriotic veterans.
THIS IS PROPAGANDA from the right; the right are gullible sheep who consume it, get angry, and want to shoot someone - or to give money to charlatans and crooks who take advantage of them after they are primed by this rubbish.  It is fake, it is a LIE, and NO ONE who is a person capable of critical thinking should find it credible, or act on the basis if this false version of events.