Monday, July 30, 2012

America The Stupid, Part 4

63% of Americans think Mitt Romney's business background would make him more able to manage the economy.

By Manifesto Joe

Yep, that's according to a recent poll conducted by USA Today/Gallup. Here's a link to the story.

That's in spite of Bain Capital's reputation as a predatory, job-destroying, job-exporting entity, and all the attendant publicity thereof.

And that's in spite of the fact that, according to another poll, 44% of Americans think that Slick Willard isn't releasing his tax returns because there's something damaging there that he wants to hide.

That poll was taken just a few days earlier, by the same organization. Here's a link to that story.

What this means is that a significant number of Americans think that although Romney did something on his taxes that would be politically very damaging, their eyes still glaze over when somebody shows them a rich MF who was the CEO of a big corporation.

Must be smarter than I is, they thinks.

Well, sadly, I fear that this may be so. But just barely.

"Mitt the Twit" Scumney just got through making a ludicrous fool of himself at the Summer Olympic Games in London, so we're pretty sure he's no diplomat. And managing a sleazy enterprise like Bain Capital doesn't make him any economic wizard, either.

A sad feature of the American "mentality" is the equation of intelligence with wealth. "If you's so smart, why ain't you rich?" is an old quotation that sticks in my mind. I have no doubt about the nationality of its origin.

And charlatans have parted many an American from his or her money along the way. One of the most visible nowadays is the contemptible Robert Kiyosaki, "author" of a book called Rich Dad Poor Dad.

This pompous ass apparently did well being a parasite in the real estate market, and is now separating people from their money with classes telling how they, too, can do this.

His biological father was a highly educated man who became superintendent of the Hawaii State Department of Education, but was "poor." In contrast, his alleged mentor (some critics question whether such a person ever existed) was a high school dropout with lesser income who put his money into passive-income investments, such as real estate, and became the "richest" man in Hawaii.

Sounds to me like Kiyosaki's biological father was a stalwart person who actually devoted his life to doing something for the betterment of society as a whole. His "mentor," if such a person does exist, was a parasite who amassed a fortune being some kind of slumlord.

Now back to Slick Willard Scumney. He's spent all summer on the defensive, and I suspect that more gaffes and missteps are on the way.

But in a society stupid enough to fork this much cash over to a mountebank like Robert Kiyosaki, one worries that Scumney might be able to pull in more than, say, 49% of the electorate. The rest of us must fight to ensure that he does not.

Manifesto Joe Is An Underground Writer Living In Texas.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Laid Off, And Taking A Short Break

I'll be posting again shortly, but I've gotten word that I'm being laid off from my job. I've been a little preoccupied since hearing that news. The last full day I was unemployed was March 4, 1982, so this will be an experience I haven't had in a long time. I'll be posting again soon -- and maybe I can persuade Geekus to do something, since he hasn't worked in years. -- MJ

Monday, July 9, 2012

Mainstream Media And Corporate Neoliberalism

By Manifesto Joe

Biased toward the left -- and biased toward the right. How can both be true?

Leave it to America's Mainstream Media -- they have somehow managed to give both impressions to different groups of activists, and I think I can explain why.

I will preface by saying that I have a very admitted and open bias toward the left, at least by American standards. And, that's the very reason why I'm writing this blog, as it is clearly a consistent expression of opinion. After nearly 56 years on this planet, I know that the "left" has no monopoly on the truth or on facts. But I find myself agreeing with their world view at least 70% of the time, so I chose sides long ago.

But what one finds upon close examination of the American MSM is a sort of "neoliberal" mind-set that can seem downright radical to a right-wing evangelical Christian, and then like 19th-century apologists for robber barons to progressives and liberals.

Evangelicals tend to be focused on social issues -- and generally anything that has gained much social acceptance since the 16th century or so is something they view with suspicion. To them, abortion is murder, pure and simple, with no gray areas. Women should be content to be second-class citizens and strictly obey their husbands and fathers. Cultural diversity is liberal hogwash, as it in their view ignores the simple "fact" that one's own group, church, race, etc., is always presumed superior to any other.

My bias toward the left tends to include an open mind, at least of sorts, regarding social issues. It runs contrary to my experience for someone to propose that my group, race, or whatever, is in some way intrinsically superior to another person's. And considering the vast holocaust that our society carries out against our partner animals daily, it's hard for me to consider ending the life of a first-trimester fetus that has a tail (and little brain activity) to be the same as homicide. It's a sad and even gruesome thing, but legislating one's religion seems inherently much worse.

Something one does routinely see in the MSM is a mind-set that is center-left on most social issues, at least by American standards. The basic corporate MSM line is:

Diversity ... GOOOOOD

The MSM accept racial equality as a given, are usually sympathetic toward abortion rights, and tout cultural diversity as a thing that people must have been mentally ill cave dwellers to have not embraced decades or even centuries ago. These are assumptions now, and in the eyes of right-wingers, an ironic form of liberal dogma.

And, the MSM won't get too much argument from me about all of the above. True, as a working-class white male, I was passed over for decades for jobs and promotions so that women and minorities could get their feet in the door of the middle class. (And meanwhile, the good ol' boys who REALLY belonged to the club were quite unaffected, because they always had their OWN affirmative-action program.)

OK, fair enough -- the viewpoint of women and minorities would likely be, now at least some of you white male SOBs get just a tiny taste of the kind of shit we had to eat for centuries. I understand that viewpoint well.

But the typical working-class, white American male listening to Rush Lardbaugh doesn't generally share that world view. They cream their pants with glee when Herr Lardbaugh launches into tirades about "femi-Nazis" and continues with barely masked exhibitions of racism.

To them, the MSM have a liberal bias, if only for the reason that Herr Lardbaugh lies just a bit outside of how the MSM usually defines the political mainstream.

Personally, I have few problems with the MSM's mind-set in this regard, whatsoever.

But that's not the whole story.

In particular, study the pages of the U.S. business press, and lots of us can quickly detect a very different sort of bias:

Capitalism and free markets ... GOOOOOOD. Labor unions and big government ... BAAAAAAD.

I remember being asked once if I thought that the MSM outlet that I work for has a liberal bias, because obviously the person who asked the question believed that to be so.

My reply was that, well, if they're so liberal, perhaps they'd let me try to organize the staffers into a union shop. I ventured that I didn't think I'd last very long.

The man asking me the question had no response to that.

The key word here is neoliberalism. It is essentially an acceptance, as a given, of 20th-century attitudes toward social issues -- but accompanied by a strict adherence to 19th-century "classical" economic theory.

Upon close inspection, it becomes apparent that America's business media are generally in the hands of people who grew up in solidly middle-class homes, at least. They and their families could take for granted being able to afford good colleges, and their climb up the journalism ladder was never in much doubt, because they probably knew people who could and would help.

The articles I've seen have referred to an average haircut as costing $45 (where are these people getting their golden locks trimmed?), and about how the thrifty habits of people like Carlos Slim and Warren Buffett have done so much to aid them in amassing vast fortunes, and so forth. Like, they still live in relatively modest homes that they bought decades ago, and some of them don't even own private jets! Wow, such deferment of gratification!

Thinking of such people as being the least bit "in touch" with the lives of ordinary Americans is not unlike portrayals of Mitt "Slick Willard" Romney as some kind of Man of the People.

If you've never been in a grueling, low-paying, exploitative situation with Eddie Haskell types for bosses, then I suppose you would have no reason to understand why someone would want to give 4% of their paycheck to a labor union. (For one thing, you can bet that in a union job, the paycheck would be much bigger even after one pays the dues.)

But you don't find people with that kind of labor experience in the business press, nor does one generally find them among U.S. news executives. From what I've seen, those offices are mainly populated by people who have led very charmed lives. They don't end up being the "grunt" workers of the industry, and they always knew that was never what the profession would hold for them.

So, folks like this get to feel just, oh, so enlightened on social issues, while toeing a primitive company line on anything that's work- or economics-related.

And that, boys and girls, is one of the big reasons why righties call the MSM "liberal" and believe that it is biased that way, while lefties can clearly see that they would quickly land in the unemployment line if they dared to bring an organizer onto the property.

And that is how different groups can somehow call the MSM biased in opposite ways. "Neoliberalism," anyone?

Manifesto Joe Is An Underground Writer Living In Texas.

Monday, July 2, 2012

America The Stupid, Part 3

By Manifesto Joe

I will preface by saying that I don't think Americans are inherently more stupid than any other nationality. Stupidity is something that seems to know no boundaries of nation or group. Daily reading of the international pages of newspapers offers ample evidence of that.

But American stupidity seems less forgivable than that found in other places, because of affluence. And, ironically, it appears that much domestic ignorance is rooted in that very affluence.

Oh, there's certainly a sizable underclass in America. Somebody born to a crack whore for a mother, and who doesn't know who his or her father is, probably doesn't stand much of a chance, decent public schools or not. Income inequality is probably a big factor. And, I can't say that I grew up affluent, at least not by American standards.

But, the middle-class Americans I have known grew up largely taking plenty for granted that can't be taken so elsewhere. Among those things seem to be even the most modest intellectual achievements. Middle-class Americans often grow up complacent, with computer games and Smartphones, generally believing that there will always be "brains" out there who will manage to devise such things. Never mind where they came from. Affluence seems to furnish a path to intellectual laziness.

As Exhibit C, I will offer the findings of Newsweek, which gave 1,000 Americans the U.S. citizenship test. Candidates for citizenship are given a random list of 10 questions from among 100 included in the full test, and they have to get six of them right to pass.

Some 38% of Americans who took that test failed, including 29% who couldn't name the current vice president, and 73% who couldn't correctly say why we fought the Cold War.

I took the test with a sample of 20 questions, and got 18 of them right. I suppose that's very good, but as a career journalist with over three decades of experience, I should have gotten them all. What did I miss? I guessed that there were 26 constitutional amendments, rather than 27, and I named power to regulate interstate commerce as one of the original powers that the Constitution gives the federal government (that didn't come until later).

Here's a link to an article on the subject, and you can also take a version of the test here.

The big problem here is that a lot of those among the 38% who fail are voters. Are these people you want making civic decisions? I'll leave you to ponder that question.

Manifesto Joe Is An Underground Writer Living In Texas.