Saturday, June 28, 2008

I Told You And Told You And Told You

"...Nobody joins a cult. You join a self-help group, a religious movement, a political organization.

They change so gradually, by the time you realize you're entrapped - and almost everybody does - you can't figure a safe way back out...."

- Deborah Layton, survivor of Jim Jones' People's Temple cult

Today’s candidates are running enthusiastically for national preacher—and much else besides.

In the revival tent atmosphere of Barack Obama’s campaign, the preferred hosanna of hope is “Yes we can!” We can, the Democratic front-runner promises, not only create “a new kind of politics” but “transform this country,” “change the world,” and even “create a Kingdom right here on earth.” With the presidency, all things are possible.

In The Road to Serfdom, economist and political philosopher F.A. Hayek chastised the “socialists of all parties” for their belief that “it is not the system we need fear, but the danger it might be run by bad men.” Today’s “presidentialists of all parties”—a phrase that describes the overwhelming majority of American voters—suffer from a similar delusion. Our system, with its unhealthy, unconstitutional concentration of power, feeds on the atavistic tendency to see the chief magistrate as our national father or mother, responsible for our economic well-being, our physical safety, and even our sense of belonging. Relimiting the presidency depends on freeing ourselves from a mind-set one century in the making. One hopes that it won’t take another Watergate and Vietnam for us to break loose from the spellbinding cult of the presidency.

-- Gene Healy, author, from his essay "The Cult of the Presidency" on Reason Online

All these photos (and the video below) were taken from a kinda-scary blog, called "Is Barack Obama The Messiah?", which has to seen to be believed: it documents all the people who are regarding Barack as Jesus or some shit.

It's truly amazing that no one - especially Barack Obama himself - is making an effort to stop this fanaticism. It doesn't speak well of him, journalism, our educational system, or the country, that it's gone on this long - or that it's happening at all: I mean, after almost two years of speeches, the man still hasn't even defined what he stands for yet. That's not politics:

It's cultism. Pure and simple.


  1. Jesus, Berk, how can you miss the obvious here?

    HE, Barack Obama, hasn't told America what he stands for - not Greg Hartnett, not Barack's website, and not you - but Barack Obama, giving a speech where he lays out what he's about, in terms we can all understand, that isn't really a balloon filled with hot air when you think about it.

    Stop doing yoga, dude: it doesn't lead you to critical thinking but these (stupid) knee-jerk reactionary responses.


    Even the positions Hartnett says Barack got behind (when he wasn't voting "present" on the hard stuff) are stupid. All of it, typical liberal bullshit.

  2. I'm struggling with the distinction. A cursory glance can see that he is pro-woman's rights on abortion, that he convened a meeting with the Democrat governors to address the issue of industry, dollars, and jobs moving offshore and so on. You might characterise these as typical leftie concerns (though presumably they carry different a different weight to people who have lost jobs, or women's rights groups) but it is a clearcut position to hold nonetheless.

    A stock market assessment of the election year states that McCain is behind Big Pharma and Big Oil while Obama is for alternative medicines and alternative energy sources. It doesn't take a genius to see why you fall on the side you do, seeing no problem with our ongoing reliance on conventional orthodoxies. My argument would be that Big Oil has completely and comprehensively failed us and it's time to at least start examining alternatives - without tripping up on right wing stumbling blocks on the way, that tell us to look away and do nothing.

    The fact is, if as much had been pumped up in researching wind, solar, grain, air, hydro energy sources as has been spent per annum just in subsidies for the billion-dollar earning polluting technologies then we'd already see several viable industries. Especially since, without government quasisocialist subsidies to fall back on, there have been tremendous gains in these areas.

    It's a sleight of hand by the big oil companies to convince you to continue bowing to their lobbying. Despite the rampant economic and social cost.

    As for natural medicines. How many alleopathic medicines have caused death and deformity? They are a lot more expensive - economically and environmentally - than natural medicines. You need to at least concede that pharmaceutical companies have a vested interest in denying you can pick something from your garden that is more effective than the synthetic muck they peddle.

  3. The distinction is cultism: let the man speak for himself - and not in some David Koresh language where, if you don't already "believe," he makes no sense. I've listened to him for almost two years now and the best answer anyone can give on his views is "check his website." Sorry, but I've been following politics for almost 30 years now, and I've never had this problem before. And no one's ever called another major candidate's campaign a "cult" before either (like almost all the majors have Obama's) why don't you take that seriously? I know Democrats are hard-headed but has everyone gone plain dumb?

    I like the spin you put on things too: pro-abortion is pro-women's rights? Really? Even with women killing themselves, or going mad, after getting one? Anti-abortion people follow those stories, too, unlike the pro-abortion people who ignore them or try to bury them. (Don't assume I'm taking a position, Berk, just fleshing out the issue:) Are you one who says "it's just a collection of cells," but when your son (or daughter) arrives, then it's your "precious baby"?

    The terms "Big Pharma" and "Big Oil" are provocative, and pejorative, as well. "Big Pharma" has extended our lives by half in less then 50 years - you gonna diss that? And "Big Oil" has made our lives better in a billion different ways - at great cost to themselves, and in individual lives (considering how dangerous the work is) - again: are you (sitting at a computer made from their work) really in a position to sniff at that? "Big Oil has completely and comprehensively failed us"? It built the wealth of the Middle East and is the main fuel of the Western World's economies. You're pretty ungrateful if you ask me.

    Meanwhile, "alternative" medicine acts as a parasite on the back of real medicine (which has to rush in to fix whatever those untrained "healers" mess up) and has nothing to stand on, evidence-wise, or else real medicine would've whole-heartedly embraced it already. (Jeez, Berko, you seem too smart for that lame crap.) Or do you think water (homeopathy) is medicine too?

    Who says alternative energy sources haven't had funding? I live in California, Berk: I've seen it all. Why can't you accept they're too expensive and can't do the job? Everything that works, like nuclear and domestic drilling, has been blocked by environmentalists - they're the problem. And, considering their obsession with "the planet" never seems to evolve (just like "alternative" medicine), I'd think, at some point, they'd get off the pot and try to help - instead of always acting as the proverbial wrench being thrown into in the works.

    And BTW: Air quality has been improving, since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, a little fact the environmentalists seem to ignore. What? Don't they think the big bad rich guys like to breathe? Assholes.

    "It's a sleight of hand by the big oil companies to convince you to continue bowing to their lobbying. Despite the rampant economic and social cost."

    Bullshit. Our lives have been 100% better because of their efforts, and the fact you and I are talking is proof of that. Damn, Berk, you believe the most obvious lies.

    "How many alleopathic medicines have caused death and deformity?"

    How many lives are saved? How many years have been added to the average human life span world-wide? How many of those drugs are proven effective and how many "alternatives" have been?

    You're sounding like an idiot now. Sorry (because I'm considering you a friend) but it's true. There's really no comparison, Berko. You just sound ungrateful for the miracles modern medicine produces every day. And, as I said, when your "alternatives" don't work, then real medicine has to step in anyway. It's really one of the scams of our lifetime. Don't you fucking read my blog?

    "They are a lot more expensive - economically and environmentally - than natural medicines."

    Bullshit. "Natural medicines" don't work. They kill. They lead people into a false sense of security they have no right to embrace. At best they postpone real treatment.

    "You need to at least concede that pharmaceutical companies have a vested interest in denying you can pick something from your garden that is more effective than the synthetic muck they peddle."

    I have to concede nothing: I am not going to rip away someone's humanity, and the very real desire to ease human suffering, just because some ungrateful prick discovered they make a buck from their work.

    Now, let me tell you something, Berko:

    My mother-in-law was killed by a quack. He deceived my airy-fairy NewAge wife and destroyed my marriage. I don't take the lies of these people, or their so-called "industry," lightly. They are liars of the highest order, with a piss-poor record for doing anything but spreading more lies about what they do - which you've bought lock-stock-and-barrel.

    If you've got any - ANY - solid evidence to back up what you think about "alternative" medicine, then let's see it. Otherwise, you'd do good to listen to the people who have suffered at the hands of those people. Go check out the respectful Insolence blog, or Panda Bear, M.D., or any of the other medical blogs that deal with such issues (without my axe to grind) and you'll see:

    Your beliefs are your weak spot, Berko.

    And one more thing:

    You really would do good to look my blog more - and start clicking the links: there's a wealth of information you're missing out on.

  4. You make a fair point about Obama. I personally like aspirational speeches in politicians and I'm still waiting for Bush to make one. Though, again in fairness, I think that most of JFK's great stump speeches - "ashes in our mouths" and all that - were written by professional speechwriters. But, again, no argument that a candidate should espouse what they stand for first, and worry about the fireside chats once they're elected.
    I'm also aware that Lincoln, a Republican, was easily capable of both.

    re: the pejorative terms. Well, I didn't get them from Mother Jones. This was the shorthand used by a stockmarket report which presumably had no other ideological barrow to push than what would suit the market and speculators. It is a handy one though because it is the big companies who use their influence to get what they want, sometimes to the detriment of people and place.

    My comment about oil failing us was rash, I see. My real point was that oil companies (and gas and coal) say "Stick with us" but then don't meet their brief: to be cheap and plentiful and non-polluting, which is exactly what some alternative energy sources are.
    Most sensible energy plans try to move us to using high-polluting, scarce and compromised existing resources as a backup until we can iron out the problems of supplying sufficient quantities of newer sources. The fact is, just as you accuse environmentalists of hampering exploration (not without justification in the case of nuclear), so too will the PR of large companies spend huge amounts to prevent the threat of something that will downgrade their profits and influence. Why, for example, was the electric car recalled? It worked, it was cheap to run, celebrities were buying it. Then, without a word of explanation, it was withdrawn. Dangerous? Unsustainable? File under Other.

    Alternative energy sources are given barely more than lip service. If they can use solar to the extent they do in a cold country like Germany then the cat's probably already out of the bag. The fact is, with solar panels on your roof you can use enough energy to power your house and feed what you don't use back into the grid. How's that for efficiency? Your cost, after purchase of the panels which last 20-30 years is, um, nothing.

    I understand that you have a personal grudge against homeopathic remedies and I have no love for gurus of any kind myself. But you don't need someone to prescribe the plants that make you better. That's the beauty of it: you don't need a doctor - with payoffs from pharmaceutical companies - OR hoodoo merchants with their quack cures.

    I'm glad we're online pals as I respect the veracity of your argument but allow this 'idiot' to provide his own personal testimony. I take Royal Jelly. Don't have a family doctor because I never need to see one. Had a cold during the 2000 Olympics, haven't had the flu in fifteen to twenty years. Won't get it, even if I behave like a smartarse and put myself actively in the way of anything that gives you the flu.

    Royal Jelly is what the bees are fed on when they hatch. The workers are gradually weaned off it but the Queen lives on a pure diet of the stuff and grows to be eleven times the size of the others.

    Most cold and flu tablets, which don't work all that well judging by the results of others, cost quite a bit. I can pick up a box of thirty vials from Chinatown for $10. And because it's got every vitamin etc in it, I dodge every other kind of illness as well.

    Can't get more natural, non-bullshit than that.

    And yet I bet you can point me to a link from an advocate of some pharma company that will tell me that it doesn't work.

    The thing is, natural medicines don't ride on the back of western medicine. They pre-date it and they operate entirely differently. Alleopathic medicines cure a disease or condition, wholistic medicines look at the individual and cure them.

  5. Thanks, man. I mean you no harm - I'm just mean.

    America will never be "oil free" because so much depends on it. And, in order to use something else, we've got to use more of the known resources to create it - not less.

    Everything piggybacks on Western medicine. It's left everything else in the dust. Period. Most problems, like colds and common aches and pains, are self-limiting (they go away by themselves) and whatever you're taking at the time gets the credit. That's the secret of "alternative" medicine and so-called "natural" cures. I don't think that, if Royal Jelly had any great healing potential, Western medicine would've missed it. Don't forget, Berko: whoever discovers these things gets a lot of fame and fortune, so there are no natural cures "they" don't want you to know about.

    It's just paranoia.

  6. Except I didn't say 'clears a cold in three days', which could be a natural process. And the flu is a LOT worse than that; usually lasts a week. Sore head, aches and pains, the works. Everyone in my acquaintance gets that an average of once a year and/or has to have a nasty flu shot. Not me.

    There are companies selling it commercially and its available in most healthfood shops but there's no guarantee that western medicine will adopt it because:

    a) Remember when echinacea started being included in cough medications, lozenges etc? It was only a couple of years ago. Western medicine true believers would have avoided taking it until it got the official imprimatur but common sense tells us it was as effective before it was taken up by drug companies.

    b)It's like those chemical-based salves that warn 'may cause illness, including death'. Not good for asthmatics and allergenic people so you have to test it first. Alleopathic medicines work on conditions, not on the individuals that manifest those conditions. It's a completely separate approach.

  7. Give it up, Berk:

    It's bullshit.

    If it wasn't everybody (especially doctors) would've heard about it's miraculous abilities a long time ago.