Tuesday, November 25, 2008

It's A Bird, It's A Plane,...IT'S CULTMAN!!!

"The spirit of a cargo cult was loose in the land."

-- Joan Didion, keeping me in the game - even while I'm away from the action - for The New York Review Of Books.

I think it's so bizarre how often cultism is mentioned now (in this country with more cults, working together and independently, than any other) and - despite this country's many negative (and violent) experiences with cultism - nobody's willing to credibly talk about it, or (like with Jim Jones) seems seriously concerned about where this latest episode is going - even though it's much more wide-spread, on a national scale - and now involving The White House.

Instead (and as usual) everyone's fanatically concerned about tamping the claims of cultism down. It keeps reminding me of one of the last threats my totally clued-in cult-member ex-wife threw at me before her killing spree:

"We're in the hospitals - we're getting legit - you better 'get it' before it's too late."

That bitch knew something. TMR's conclusion:

We are now living in very, very dangerous times,...


  1. Ah, can't stay away so I'll condense all my comments into one post:

    1. When I said that McCain was a better candidate than Bush in 2000 you replied that I 'must just not like democracy'. Now that Obama has won and you're grizzling about it/denying its validity, does that mean you don't like democracy?

    2. The very nature of a cult is that it manifests aberrant behaviour. Isn't it a huge stretch then to ascribe cultish beliefs to the majority of US voters? i.e. a cult, sect or indeed myth becomes a fully fledged religion when it attracts a significantly large following. A political movement is further removed again because it need never have ascribed to the belief system of a cult, making your assertions even more implausible.

    3. You state that 'if Obama gets killed, it will be because of his New Age beliefs... though [cult-like followers] will attribute it to something else'. But I thought those guys who were going to don top hats and shoot the candidate were neo-Nazi skinheads. The media thought they were neo-Nazi skinheads and even the intending killers themselves thought that's what they were! So whose delusional here?

    4. You state that, as an atheist, you have no beliefs but you do: you believe that there are NewAge cultists infesting left wing politics in America and directing the next four years. This will be news to the unionists, the blue collar workers, the voters who saw McCain as another GWB (and disliked his politics or the direction he was taking the country), the voters who wanted a new level of accountability, those who wanted something done about the deficit or getting the troops out of Iraq (there are obviously many more examples - it would be like saying that all of Bill Clinton's political enemies were moral prudes who objected to his sexcapades; he had plenty of opponents who didn't like other things about him). Why are you, with your anti-cult beliefs, more real in your thinking than the many many Obama voters who are agnostic, Christian or otherwise non-NewAge?

    5. You state that Obama made nothing but empty promises and is already falling back on his word. So far he has stated, as President-elect, that he will close Guantanamo Bay, ban torture, withdraw the troops, and reject lobbyists from holding positions that represent a conflict of interest. These are concrete, pragmatic undertakings. And I believe he will carry them out. I'll even make a fat wager that he will. Do you then wish to amend your assertion to 'he will renege/has already reneged on some of his promises' (which all politicians do)

    (btw I'm with you on a number of other points however. perhaps another time)

  2. Jeez she's really tough on him:

    I am not saying that Bush, Cheney, and the Republicans are like Honecker and the East German Communist Party, but the two events, November 1989 and November 2008, share the sense that an era has come to an end, that profound and sudden change has taken place...

    The election of Senator Obama to the presidency signals our return to a nation whose government respects law and order...

    President Obama will certainly save the Supreme Court and therefore the US Constitution. The integrity of our institutions has been guaranteed, restored...

  3. Berko,

    1. No, it means I'm here and you're there.

    2. Even Jim Jones had followers who didn't drink the kool-aid, and there is such a thing as a political cult. (You really need to study cultism: Jones was once in charge of San Francisco's Housing Authority.)

    3. You're being too specific with that one set of guys: there are more folks that don't care for Obama than just them. Like I said: I'm here and you're not.

    4. I don't "believe" the Dems are infiltrated by cultists, I know it. I've provided you with evidence of it, or do you think I dreamed up John-Roger and Huffington, or Oprah Winfrey's obsessions? I've told you before: this game of "gotcha" gets old, Berko.

    5. He stated he'd get rid of the era of Clinton - though he's now got Bill's cabinet and Hillary (his foreign policy foil) as Sec. of State - and lobbyists are already part of his administration. The troops are staying in Iraq (haven't you heard?) and he said Gitmo may require more thought. (Yea, I'm sure it will.) That "torture" has been tried by so many reporters here (I posted Christopher Hitchens getting waterboarded) I'm not even sure if the word applies, and (based on the discussions so far) nobody else is either.

    Obama also stated he'd lower the level of the oceans.

    I'm sure you'll alert me when he accomplishes that one.


    I never said she dislikes him, just commented on the phenomena that brought him to power, which too many still deny. I guess everybody's blind but the Obots.

    Thanks to you, both, for writing.

  4. I never said she dislikes him, just commented on the phenomena that brought him to power, which too many still deny.


    Her thesis is that the US has been so demoralized and psychologically battered over the last 8 years that the un-ironic optimism required to push this campaign over the top seemed odd, novel and even a bit cultish to some.

    To your credit, however, one would have to have read past the first paragraph of her essay to see how she developed this idea, so if you are just googling "Obama + cult" and randomly linking to whatever pops up without really reading or thinking about it then I guess there is no reason to put any more effort in to this post than any of the others.

    BTW, are you SURE you know what "confirmation bias" is?

  5. Sorry, Mr. Burke, but I feel too good to entertain your cynicism today. (Between you and Berko, I'm starting to wonder if "Berk" - "or "Burk" - means cynical.)

    I'm comfortable knowing I'm not an idiot and, based on your question, thinking you just might be.

    Have a nice day - I am!

  6. "Cynicism" is dedicating a blog to tearing down and undermining the president of your own country before he even takes office.

    "Confirmation bias" is always finding exactly what you want to find, even when that requires misleading the reader by plucking isolated sentences completely out of context from pieces that draw the exact opposite conclusion from your own ridiculous conspiracy theories.

    Based on the above, some might even wonder if you aren't deliberately trying to demoralize and mislead your readers from the outset - not a very nice nice thing to do in the middle of a global economic meltdown, a housing crisis and two Middle Eastern wars, but then again you don't appear to be a particularly pleasant fellow.

    And "idiocy"? Not sure what that is, but suspect you might be intimately acquainted with it yourself.

    Good day.

  7. It seems to be that there is an excess of vitriol on both sides of the debate in America. That much was evident in the campaign itself and in the various attacks on supporters of both sides. Sometimes it helps to be at one remove.

    Your ability to see the cult in everything (on the other side)reminds me of a neighbour of my sister. She didn't have a tree in the place. It was bare and awful: no birds, no shade. Turns out her father had been killed by a falling tree branch so in her world, she couldn't abide trees as they represented something different to her. Your experiences have coloured your view on liberals and you have come to see them all as NewAge menaces. To other eyes, they are no more so than all conservatives being money-grubbing selfish arseholes or godbothering moral prudes. You are not "wrong" as such; it's just that your worldview has been damaged by your experience.

    Similarly, while I might claim objectivity, my view that government inevitably leads to tyranny, and it is just a question of degrees, does not make me more of an absolute authority on the truth than some bright-eyed campaigner for [insert name of favourite Party]; I just have a different lens.

    Nor does that make your (or my) contribution less than valuable. But you do err on the side of missing some of the good on the non-loonie social democratic way of thinking.

    My test on the value of an Obama presidency will be the degree to which he repairs the economy, reverses the deficit, articulates his stance and direction in a way that is clear and inclusive. I've looked for the Sun Myung Moon (etc)type of cultish promise in his speeches and debates and all I see are specific hardnosed agenda for 'turning the country around'. You are free to disagree with his objectives, but that is an entirely different matter.

    Do I see him administering kool aid, even metaphorical kool aid? No, there is no evidence of it. (some of his supporters are, of course, another matter) And my respectfully disagreeing with your assertion does not automatically make me cynical. In fact, I am a good deal less cynical now that it is apparent that you don't need to be a member of a family dynasty or a secret society (Skull & Bones, Club of Rome)to become leader. That much I find immensely reassuring.

    I will wait to judge his presidency. (I agree with you in showing disdain for those who would cut short Bush's presidency. The suggestion is undemocratic, even treasonous.)

    As for Bush, I have tried to avoid the 'red rag' dislike and judge him on his performance, and the views of his supporters, but I guess I prefer a fireside chat/New Deal kind of leader with less blemishes on his record.

  8. Sorry, Berko, but you're wrong again:

    There has been 8 years of unearned vitriol from the Left (which you bought into a good deal of and contributed to) simply because they lost the first election by Bush. To ignore that - to such a point that you claim both sides have contributed equally - reminds me of the many posts I have done that feature media types seeing a landslide in Obama's victory (when he only won by 6%) or, during the lead-up, declared show-of-hand polls were showing major victories when it was clear the country was about evenly split - which the election ultimately revealed. In other words, you see what you are determined to see, while I am trying to correct that.

    You say I see "see the cult in everything" and my experiences have "damaged" and coloured my view on liberals as NewAge menaces. Really? Couldn't it also be my experiences - both as a liberal and coupled with my divorce - have given me an insight to what makes the Left tick? I mean, you have attempted to push Nostradamus, and psychics, as some kind of authorities on me - don't you think that fits, perfectly, into my "garbage in, garbage out" view of the situation? I keep giving you facts - I'm certainly not alone, now, in seeing cultism growing in this country - and you still, stubbornly, keep insisting it's just little ol' me, The Crack Emcee, alone with his pain and delusions. That, very-conveniently, leaves out Democrats like Joan Dideon, Joe Klein, Evan Thomas, and many others who have commented on the phenomena long after I started ringing the alarm. The fact you insist on doing that is, to me, a symptom of cultism - not clarity.

    You say Obama hasn't administered metaphorical Kool-Aid when he certainly ran on belief, hope and change, declared he'd lower the oceans, lied repeatedly, accepted the titles of The One" and "Lightworker", and rode a wave of unearned media bias without saying a word. Come on, man, are you blind? This has been the most screwy election I've ever seen in 30 years - Mark Halperin of ABC News (and TIME Magazine) just said, basically, the same thing to a room full of reporters where hardly anyone said a word in their own defense. There is cultism at work here but no one, including you, wants to admit it.

    So much has happened that is "undemocratic, even treasonous" that it boggles my mind that you, or anyone else, will admit it. Over the last 8 years, the Left has done more damage to the Western World than Bush ever could. That's not me fighting a partisan battle but stating a fact as an impartial a judge as I can be.

    I left the Left - and the Democratic Party - because what they are doing and saying is wrong, period. Unlike them, I never doubted my country isn't racist, or would elect someone who isn't traditionally "connected", or any of the other charges that (supposedly) just got dismantled in this election. My position has always been - and still is - that we didn't have to prove it to anyone. None of the countries that were daring us to go with Obama have someone of equal measure anywhere near power, so who were they to be throwing down the gauntlet? It's all a sick mindfuck to me - and now we're stuck with it - for a while anyway.

    But, as I'm sure you know by now, I think (as my experience with my ex-wife has proven) reality has an awesome power to correct the folly of man. I'm just hoping my whole country doesn't have to be punished for the further idiocy of it's silly Left-Wing, though something tells me it will, because they've got the reigns of power. Oh well. We're a resilient people and this too shall pass.

    I just hope it happens sooner rather than later, and the cut doesn't go too deep.


  9. Well met. I can see what you're getting at (though I never said I couldn't - just that I had a different position).

    Here's the way I see it. I don't buy particularly into the conspiracies of right, left, or in the middle. I just see all beings as capable of doing good and doing harm, in either case by either good or bad intention.

    I know the freemasons have long held the reigns of power and they are rumoured to kiss goat buttocks, so I'm not surprised to see cults in operations of power.

    If I refuse to see the influence, or give the same weight to, cultist thinking in this election it's because I am not looking for things that have existed for eons in the upper echelons of power - the brokering, the sloganeering, the lofty promises, the boy's clubs - I am looking for signs that the leadership aspirant has a plan to fix things. I don't want spin about 'having to have a recession' as one of our leaders once stated, I want jobs and useful industry, I want a fair day's pay for a fair day's work, I want freedom of choice and fun. I'm not planning monasticism any time soon.

    But hearing that the bastion of democracy is hocking its economy to totalitarian states like Saudi Arabia and China is a tiny bit distracting.

    "I mean, you have attempted to push Nostradamus, and psychics, as some kind of authorities on me - don't you think that fits, perfectly, into my "garbage in, garbage out" view of the situation?"

    No I do not. It would be garbage if I said "What about Nostradamus?" and left it at that. I had plenty of my own examples of why psychics from the early eighties had either got it wrong or made their deductions from more scientific or technological analysis as to what would happen over the last twenty-thirty years.

    I also explained why I thought Nostradamus was remarkable - because of the Hister reference. You can argue that he was predicting there would be conflict emanating from Germany in the twentieth century (and I use the word prediction here in a technical sense - has forecast an event through some unspecified means) because it was a safe bet that a warrior nation would still be engaging in battle.

    It has enough fascinating material harboured in this quatrain to make it academically interesting and that does not in any way equate with going to see John Edward or buying into "The Secret" (which, by the way is some exploitative bitch using public domain 'wisdom' for her own and making a killing from it. Don't say I never do anything for you ;-) )

    Noting that Mother Shipton had a greater strike right than centuries worth of psychics to follow is only to show that I can look at this with a cool head. I'm not going to bet my money on my lucky numbers or my star sign, I'm not consulting the oracle to make my decisions for me, I too was gullible but strong enough to learn from my mistake but that doesn't mean that I will discount the exceptions as well.
    We can learn from the exceptions. Profilers being used to find lost children is also an exception to me. And not to you. I can live with that.

    Sorry I missed the report by investigative journalists of their volunteering to be stacked naked and menaced by unmuzzled guard dogs, or of - well you tell me what was in the photo. Maybe they could get the guys from Jackass, a hood and some genital clamps, to reproduce that one.

    I'm proud to say I've never used a prisoner's head to give myself an upper body workout but it reminds me of some of the thugs I went to school with. They mucked up in the institution of a school hostel so I can just imagine how much they'd run amok in somewhere where the point of the place is to give the inmates a hard time.

    I don't have concern for terrorists. But I do have concern that a nation that holds itself up as the 'cop of the world' - and has done for the better part of fifty years - at least tries to prove it is fighting for a greater cause than the enemy and by using more noble tactics.

    A Lyndie Englund is obviously going to do more damage than a room full of batty liberals arguing over causes, regardless of whether she got prosecuted for her troubles. It comes down to whether you're getting the shit knocked out of you, and whose doing the knocking.
    See, I can just as easy accuse you of denying my point, no matter how many examples I give.

    It wasn't the critical liberals who were stirring up Islamic terrorists, they were waving placards like 'No blood for oil' so, unless that was translated in Arabic as 'Allah=nothing', I think their targets were those who were in there stirring them up.

    I don't know if they suddenly got a bolt of propaganda that didn't sound bloodthirsty and medieval but the group that blew up the passenger train in Spain weren't pissed that some activist wanted to close gitmo, they were retaliating. Retaliating to a retaliation of a blow for vengeance, but not the point.

    What we want to do is stop people from doing it, and we can all apply ourselves consciously to how we bring that about.

  10. As far as "confirmation bias" is concerned, when you decide to write your shitty little missives to all the other people who see the same thing


    It's not what you claim to "see", it's that you are using extremely dishonest techniques to mislead your readers.

    You think Obama is "cultist"? Fine. Why not just say so instead of taking other people's words out of context and twisting them around to try and make it look like they agree with you?

    That's not "commentary" or "analysis" it's lowest-common-denominator propaganda, plain and simple.

    Surely as a self-advertised "artist of integrity" you are capable of showing a bit of actual integrity?

  11. Steve,

    I'm only printing this comment because, here, you're at least making some kind of sense. Here's my answer:

    You are focused on this one quote - Joan Dideon's - when tons of people, on the Right and Left, have said the same thing. So am I being selective or you?

    And do you think I should ignore the dynamics of cultism, which we've seen often enough in this country to identify them, just to appease Obama's supporters/followers? What's the point in that?

    I think you're too hung up on supporting Obama, for whatever reason, to be thinking rationally. Sorry if it hurts your feelings but "Change", "Hope", and "Believe" aren't political platforms, and calling the president "The One" or the "Lightworker" (Satan) isn't normal either. The president of the United States being a student of Saul Alinsky's work (who dedicated his book, Rules For Radicals, to Satan) isn't normal either. Nothing about this election - including the mewling of the press - is normal. I know: I've been following politics for 30 years and I've never seen anything like it - since Jim Jones and The People's Temple that is.

    I dare you to deny it: there's something ain't right here.