Cannabis and Schizophrenia Redux

We have already gone over this subject at length in a previous post. However, I am starting to change my mind on the subject after a lot of reading. It is looking more and more like heavy cannabis consumption during the teenage years is somehow implicated in the development of schizophrenia later on.

How this works is not known. Cannabis is probably not causing it directly, otherwise we should see epidemics of schizophrenia. More likely it is triggering it in a person who is already vulnerable. But the evidence has been flooding from, now from 30 different studies. And the younger the person is when they start and the more they use in the teen years, the greater the risk of schizophrenia later on. Some studies are even finding a dose-response relationship.

The fatal flaw in this theory has been that the rate of schizophrenia has not risen during since the start of the cannabis epidemic. I used cannabis for many years myself, and I known thousands of users, many of them long-term and heavy users. Other than making some young people lazy and somewhat paranoid, I haven’t seen a lot of ill effects from the drug.

I knew one guy who had schizophrenia who loved pot, but it made him a lot worse, so everyone tried to keep it away from him.

I’ve known only one marijuana user out of the many thousands of drug users that I have known who developed schizophrenia, but he was a heavy speed user for 10-20 years. He developed schizophrenia around age 37 after using methamphetamine heavily for 10-20 years. I am pretty sure that over a decade of heavy speed use caused his schizophrenia since heavy meth use causes massive damage to the brain.

I’ve never known any other cases, and I never saw any cases the whole time I was growing up. I hung out with heavy users, sold the drug myself for many years, and never saw any psychosis, not even a temporary case. However, the pot around nowadays is extremely strong and the age at first use has been dropping. I tried some recently and can testify that it is extremely strong indeed. I can handle it fine as I can easily handle just about any drug out there, but I can see how it could flip someone.

Quite a few of the local young people around here smoke pot. I’ve gotten to know quite a few of them and learned of their heavy marijuana use. They ranged in age from 16-23. A couple of them were dealers in their 20’s who were using large quantities of this very strong pot.

I knew about the pot-schizophrenia link and I kept looking for it in all of these individuals. I have yet to see a case of psychosis, much less schizophrenia, among these young people. I saw one person who got paranoid on pot, and I saw other cases of the “lazy pothead” syndrome, but in general, they were quite healthy mentally and led full and enriched lives. If cannabis is implicated in schizophrenia, it sure doesn’t cause it very often, as most even heavy users seem to avoid this drastic consequence.

Many kids are using this extremely strong pot at younger and younger ages, often daily for many years in adolescence. The pot we were using was much weaker, most of us did not use it every day, and most of us didn’t start using until around age 16 or so. Heavy use started around age 20 or so.

While cannabis in general does not appear to cause significant structural damage in adults, some very ominous findings are coming out about use in adolescence.

A recent study found that adults who started using cannabis before age 17 (16 or younger) had smaller brains overall, had less grey matter (fewer brain cells) yet more white matter (connections between neurons) (Earleywine 2005). Less neurons yet more connections isn’t exactly brain damage. Instead it’s just a brain that appears to have developed in a different way.

But this is the problem. The brain is still developing during adolescence. If cannabis impairs and changes normal brain development, this could be a bad thing. As it stands, no one should use cannabis before age 17 due to the risk of permanent brain changes of unknown significance. Delaying use until after age 16 apparently results in avoidance of these changes.

Even the most pot-critical researchers are claiming that cannabis is only causing 8-13% of schizophrenia cases. However, they can’t even prove that. Those are just models, and those models are not yet backed up with statistical data, which continues to show the schizophrenia rate as flat.

This interview was quite interesting. This psychiatrist posits that cannabis is causing schizophrenia, but only in people who use it, usually on a daily basis, for years starting in adolescence. The risk is greatest the younger you start. Delaying use until 19 or 20 results in dramatically lowered risk. The risk apparently drops to zero if one waits until age 21 to start using cannabis. In other words, I, at age 52, could smoke a ton of dope between now and the time I die and it won’t give me schizophrenia no matter how much I use.

At the very least, it’s certain that early and heavy cannabis use brings schizophrenia on sooner than it would have occurred ordinarily. However, that means years of life lost to psychosis that are gone forever. Many schizophrenics who use cannabis find that they have a worse course, as the cannabis triggers new psychotic episodes.

Yet schizophrenics seem to love the stuff, paradoxically. That’s probably because at first it seems to calm them down. Schizophrenia is a horrible illness, and sufferers will take just about anything to escape from the symptoms.

One theory that keeps coming is that is quite common in the early stages of schizophrenia (the prodromal phase) for users to turn to various drugs to relieve their distress. Schizophrenics often go years before their first diagnosis.

This article by Robin Murray, a notorious proponent of the cannabis-schizophrenia link, describes a case of supposed cannabis-induced schizophrenia in a teenager. At age 15, he became a heavy cannabis user at age 17, probably to treat his symptoms. A few years later, at age 20, he was finally diagnosed. Halfway through his prodromal symptoms, he began using cannabis to treat his illness.

I had a good friend recently who was a paranoid schizophrenic. He was 28 at the time and had apparently had the illness since he was 20 or so. He had not yet been diagnosed.

Hence the cannabis-schizophrenia link is said to be merely kids in the prodromal phase seeking relief for a condition that they are going to develop soon anyway and cannabis is not implicated in the disorder. This is always possible, but new research is suggesting that this is not the case.

With the new research, it is looking more and more like teenagers need to stay away from cannabis period. If they wish to use it, they should wait until age 19-20 or even better yet, age 21 when all cannabis-schizophrenia risk is gone.

References

Earleywine, Mitch. 2002. Understanding Marijuana: A New Look at the Scientific Evidence (pp. 149-150). New York: Oxford University Press.

Sardine Aromatherapy

Aromatherapy is becoming very popular and has a wide variety of applications, but I just tried Sardine Aromatherapy at my place. It works great!

Here’s what you do:

1 tbsp olive oil
1 can sardines in lemon and pepper
2 garlic cloves
1 onion

Fry the mixture very slowly for a long time, enough to let the sardine aroma saturate the residence. When it’s finished, you can eat it. I just did with Couscous, 1/3 lemon, and 1 1/2 tsp each of parsley and cilantro. It was damn good!

Whatever you do, don’t open the windows!

For the rest of the day, the sardine aroma will permeate through most of your living quarters.

Better than perfume, cologne or incense!

Paranoid Schizophrenia: Exhibit A

From an incoming link to a Twitter page and then to a Myspace page. I will say that he is an excellent artist. At first he seems like a very smart, sane person who is putting you on or doing some kind of a parody. Either that or he has some really fancy and elaborated thinking process going that’s well thought-out and coherent, but most of us are not onto it. The more you read, the less that seems to be the case.

Preoccupation with religion (the Bible) and especially the Devil (you can see he has shaved his head and grown a Devil goatee so he looks like The Evil One himself).

He does look like Satan, doesn't he? He also looks seriously nuts. He's got that crazy stare in his eyes. I wasn't going to divulge the guy's name, but if you try to download his photo, the paranoid motherfucker sends you a virus! So fuck you, Steven Pyle. And get help.

There’s also some complex stuff going on about Black Israelites and how Whites are evil invaders in America and need to be expelled. It’s like he’s incorporated whack Black and Brown Nationalist cant into his delusional project. LOL.

So I guess he’s a Cultural Marxist Multicultural Paranoid Schizophrenic. I figured it would come to this. Cultural Marxism and multiculturalism is so nuts on its face that you often wonder how it is that so many White people buy it. Answer I guess is hardcore brainwashing. It’s funny that Radical Multiculturalism is so nutty that even the crazies are incorporating it into their delusional systems, where it fits quite nicely.

But on the other hand, he has also seriously got into Tea Party “Obama is Evil” stuff and he parrots all the latest conspiracy theories about Obama. Once again this is risible because it just shows just how insane the Tea Partiers really are. When the schizophrenics start using your theory as material for their delusions, you’ve got to start wondering about the soundness of your theory.

I kept trying to go easy on the guy. He went to good schools, he went to art school in the US and Paris, and he’s a kickass artist, but he’s got to be out of his mind.

He’s also apparently a heavy cannabis user. As I make clear in the next post, in many cases, heavy cannabis use dramatically worsens the course of schizophrenia. I figure it’s probably making this guy a whole lot crazier.

You can also see that the personality is pretty well preserved in the paranoid subtype of schizophrenia, which tends to come on later in life, often in the late 20’s to early 30’s. But that’s just when they get dx’d. Typically, there is a 5-10 prodromal phase that precedes the dx. This guy is 31 years old, right around the age for full-blown paranoid schizophrenia to hit. You can also see that he’s got it together enough to produce a fancy webpage, along with some really cool artwork.

This is because paranoid schizophrenics, even when unmedicated, can often function at a fairly high level. The preservation of personality may be due to it hitting later in life. That is, the illness hits after the person has already developed a substantial personality. Other types that hit earlier in adolescence are worse because they hit while the personality is not yet well-formed. Many of these folks are said later to be “41 years old going on 16.” This is because the illness hit so early and their personality basically stopped developing after the illness hit.

Just the writing itself gives it away. If you study this stuff long enough, you can diagnose based on a writing sample alone. In this case there is no other possible diagnosis but Chronic Paranoid Schizophrenia. After 5 years, it goes chronic and the delusional system gets very well systematized and laid out. Yet the person has deteriorated quite a bit, and you can see the deterioration in the writing – you read it and you think it sort of makes sense, then you think again and say, “Huh?” That’s characteristic of schizophrenia.

2,000 Fatah-Lebanon Guerrillas Go Over To Hezbollah

This is a most interesting development.

Fatah-Lebanon has about 5,000 guerrillas under arms and a long-term presence in the refugee camps. This is a reduction of almost half, from 5,000 to 3,000, of their force. It also swells Hezbollah’s fighting size by 15% – from 12,000-14,000. This is interesting because Fatah-Lebanon’s cadres are for the most part Sunni Muslims. That so many Sunnis would join the Shia Hezbollah is amazing, and holds out hope for an amelioration of Shia-Sunni relations.

The leader of the faction who went over is named Munir Maqdah. He’s long been known as a radical. When the US invaded Iraq, he sent over many Palestinian volunteers from his camp, Ain Hilwa, to fight with Saddam’s forces. Many were present at the end in Baghdad and suffered serious casualties. When they tried to evacuate afterwards, they found that many locals would not help them, since the locals hated Saddam.

After the insurgency began, Ain Hilwa kept sending Palestinians to fight with the Iraqi guerrillas, who at that time had many moderate factions.

There are rumors that he has contacts with the Palestinian groups who have gone over to Al Qaeda. The Lebanese Army fought a war against some of these idiots, who include many non-Palestinians, especially Saudis and Syrians, in refugee camps in the north of Lebanon a while back.

However, Al Qaeda-Lebanon seriously hates Hezbollah, and I doubt if Hezbollah trusts Al Qaeda at all. Many Sunnis, especially in the north, also hate Hezbollah. Christians are divided, with one faction under Aoun supporting Hezbollah and the Falange disliking them strongly.

Background on the Camps

The camps themselves are the result of many thousands of Arabs ethnically cleansed from northern Palestine in 1947-1949. They moved across the border to Lebanon and have been in camps ever since. The Zionists scream about how the Arabs keep the Palestinians in these camps instead of making citizens out of them in order to keep the conflict going. Sadly, there is some truth to this. In Lebanon, the Palestinians may not become citizens, and their ability to work to support themselves is seriously restricted.

However, in Lebanon it is is the pro-US and pro-Israel crowd who hate the Palestinians and want to keep them in the camps. Many proposals have been made to integrate the Palestinians into Lebanese society, but they are always thwarted by the Christians, who fear the demographic implications of many new Muslim Lebanese in society.

Lebanese Christians Oppressed?

The Christians are hardly oppressed. They are dramatically overrepresented in government since there has not been a decent national census in about 50 years while the numbers of Christians have declined. The Christians have been holding up a reasonable census for some time as it would mandate a reduction in the number of their guaranteed seats in the government. As it is, they are guaranteed a number of seats far in excess of their population.

There is no discrimination against Christians as the Falangist liars and their Zionist punk allies insist. In fact, the Christians have always run the place, often with an iron fist. Outrageously, the US Marines landed in Lebanon in the late 1950’s to enforce a Christian coup that took place after an election resulted in the Christian President losing the race. Yes, US Marines landed to prevent a democratic election from having its results instated. In your whole lifetime, the US MSM will never tell you about this affair.

The Christians have always hated the Palestinians from the moment they ended up on Lebanese territory. They forced them to stay in the camps, but then they wanted them out of the camps too. In Sabra and Shatila in 1982, the Christians murdered 3,500 unarmed Palestinian civilians while the Zionist allies under Ariel Sharon watched with binoculars and surrounded the camps so no one could come to rescue the victims.

The raid was intended to be part of a campaign by the Falange to rid Lebanon of the Palestinians once and for all. Sharon was subsequently absolved of this crime by a fake Commission in Israel and went on to win accolades as a popular President. Apparently, your average Israeli thinks Sabra and Shatila was a-ok.

Background on the Maronite Christians of Lebanon

It’s difficult to say why the Maronite Christians hate the Palestinians so much. There is another group of Christians in Lebanon – the Armenian and Greek Orthodox – who were pro-independence, support Hezbollah and even started the suicide bombing trend in Lebanon in the early 1980’s. But that’s because the Lebanese Orthodox look East, not West like Maronites, as I will elaborate below.

The Maronites were initially sympathetic to the Jews who moved to Palestine as another Judeo-Christian group from Europe. The Christians had held out in the mountains of Lebanon for centuries of Muslim jihad, forced conversions and even massacres – there was a serious massacre of Christians there by the Druze in the 1860’s.

The mountain hideouts were impregnable, hence the Maronites, the Druze and the Alawi in Syria were able to survive centuries of hostile Islam. The latter two are heretical Muslim sects who also survived by pretending to be Orthodox Muslims, disallowing intermarriage and conversion into the sect, and only allowing a few trusted leaders to know the truth of the religion, while your average follower scarcely knew what the religion was about. Hence, while some Muslims said the Alawi and Druze were heretics, this was hard to prove.

When the Crusaders came to retake Jerusalem, the Maronites helped them, seeing them as fellow Christians come to rescue them from the Muslims.

As a result of long centuries of survival against Muslims bent on converting them, the Maronites have a reputation for being some of the toughest, most hardass Christians in the Middle East. They also don’t like Muslims much at all.

The Maronites are interesting because they have always looked West, to Europe, to Rome. They are Roman Catholics and not Eastern Orthodox as the rest of the Middle Eastern Christians are.

This Eurocentric outlook also resulted in a deep alliance with the French colonizers. In fact, Lebanon was originally carved out of Syria to give these hardy Christians survivors a “homeland,” on the same grounds that Israel was carved out of Palestine as a homeland for the Jews. As a result, many Syrian and even Lebanese Sunni Muslims regard Lebanon as a “fake state.” Syria has always regarded Lebanon as a runaway province.

The Maronites never wanted the French to leave and were often regarded as traitors by independence activists. All over the Middle East, Christians and Jews often worked hand and hand with colonizers and did not want the colonizers to leave, probably fearing independence under hostile Muslims. Hence, many were regarded as traitors by Arab independence activists.

Apparent Assassination Attempt Against Iraqi Prime Minister Maliki

There is supposedly a news blackout on this incident, and it is only being reported that Maliki was suddenly rushed to the hospital while the votes for the new election are being held. The Western media is providing no information about why Maliki was suddenly hospitalized. However, Debka is reporting that last Thursday, March 11, Maliki’s convoy was hit first by a bomb, then by RPG and automatic weapons fire.

Maliki was rushed to the nearest hospital, Medical City in Baghdad, with moderate to serious wounds. He is said to be have been injured in the shoulder. The attack occurred somewhere in Baghdad.

Although Debka is sometimes right and sometimes wrong, I think that they are right this time. The times when they are wrong and lying is when the lie is good for the Jews or when the truth is bad for the Jews. Since Maliki has nothing to do with the Jews or Israel (except that the US supports him in Iraq) there is no pro-Israel gain the story, hence no reason for Debka to lie. Debka doesn’t make up lies to make their allies look bad.

It is interesting to speculate on who may want Maliki dead. Personally, I put the finger on former Iraqi Prime Minister Iyad Allawi’s grouping of Sunnis and liberal Shia. He’s a former Baathist and confidant of Saddam Hussein who had a falling out with Saddam, joined the opposition and survived an assassination attempt by Saddam’s agents in London.

These bastards are basically capable of anything.

Maliki was supposed to speak on Sunday but his doctors said he was not well enough to appear yet. But he did appear later on that evening at a press conference.

“The Chavez Crime Wave” In Regional Context

Criminology is a notorious enough black hole of theory as it is, without throwing a bunch of political bullshit into the mix. A cursory examination of recent history all around the world shows that crime waves can almost never, or never be blamed on any sitting Administration. If no government ever causes a crime wave, no succeeding government, except possibly some kind of a police state, can slow one down or stop one.

What causes crime then? Economic factors can cause crime. The homicide rate skyrocketed in the US during the Depression. It was actually higher during the Depression than it has been for most of the last 45 years. Yes! It is true. Your grandparents and parents lived through a crime wave.

People who lived through that era, though, said that your average person was pretty safe during the Depression, but the are not so safe now due to violent crimes against strangers. Homicides in the Depression were among fellow down and outers, and did not touch police society much at all.

There was a huge crime wave in the US starting in the 1960’s. The causes of this have never been satisfactorily explained. There was another wave during the 1990’s, apparently due to the “crack wars,” wars by Black inner city gangs fighting over the drug trade. While it is true that locking up vast percentages of the population can reduce crime, it is a costly palliative. On the other, there are few if any government actions that seem to cause crime, other than possibly setting off an economic Depression.

One thing is clear is that moving from a socialist system to a more capitalist system is associated with vast increases in crime, especially theft, organized crime, smuggling and homicide. Such transitions in China, the former USSR and Eastern Europe were characterized by wild increases in the crime rate.

Crime rates in Europe have typically been correlated with the amount of socialism in a society. The societies that had more socialism had less crime. The less socialism, the more crime. The correlation was pretty neat. It should be clear by now that capitalism itself causes tremendous amounts of crime.

Crime may also increase in societies that are highly unequal. Inequality causes frustration, rage and class resentment and conflict. Poorer people often act out this rage by stealing from the richer folks. Society is going to redistribute income in one way or another, this is what the capitalists don’t get. If the state won’t do it, the poorer people will take matters into their own hands and do some income redistribution of their own!

This article indicates that Latin America as a whole is undergoing a wild crime wave, in particular violent crime.

Mexico, Argentina, Venezuela, Brazil, Colombia, Honduras, El Salvador, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Panama and even Costa Rica are experiencing terrible crime, in particular homicide.

Factors are difficult to discern, but the drug trade seems to be implicated in a lot of the crime. Brazil and Venezuela have had terrible crime under both rightwing and leftwing governments. Whatever government is in power in Brazil or Colombia does not seem to effect the crime rate. I doubt if changing the government will have much effect on crime in any of those other countries either. And why would it? The state has little to do with societally complex issues such as street crime.

In light of all of this, the notion parried about by the Western MSM that somehow Hugo Chavez’ government is responsible for a crime wave in Venezuela is downright bizarre. What might be the etiology of such a crime wave? How might the state be implicated? None of this makes any sense. Any criminology professor would laugh such a theory out of his office. It’s a shame that the MSM is stooping so low.

New Movie on the Fake Holodomor

Some idiot Hollywood filmmakers, some of them Ukrainians, are behind Holodomor: The Movie, a new documentary about the fake Holodomor of 1932-33, the fake deliberate famine that never even happened.

Looking over the story line, there are problems already.

Worst genocide in the history of mankind. Not true. First of all, it wasn’t a genocide. Second, the figures are wrong.

7-10 million died, presumably all Ukrainians. Not true. There were probably about 5.4 million deaths, most actually due to disease and not starvation. People weakened by lack of food fell prey to disease epidemics, particularly cholera. Sanitation was still rudimentary in the USSR at this time, and the antibiotic era only began after WW2. Before the antibiotic era, those afflicted with epidemic diseases often just died.

The movie implies that only Ukrainians died. This is not true. There was a famine over the entire land. People died in Moscow and Siberia.

The movie implies that Ukrainians as a people were deliberately targeted for genocide. Not true. As noted, starvation occurred throughout the land. In particular, the Russian regions near the Ukraine had death rates as high as the Ukrainians. If the Ukrainians were specifically targeted for genocide, why was the death rate just as high among the Slavs of the Lower Volga?

The movie tells the usual lie – there was a bumper harvest in 1932-1933, but the USSR confiscated the crops in order to kill off the Ukrainians, many of whom were protesting collectivization. It’s not true. The famine occurred because there was a famine harvest. The harvest simply collapsed in those years. Some of it was due to weather, but mostly an epidemic of wheat rust spread throughout the land. The Ukrainians also were destroying many of their own crops, setting them on fire, or harvesting them and then leaving them in piles to rot in the rain.

Anti-government guerrillas were rampaging through the Ukraine, attacking collective farms, killing collective farmers, raping women. In early 1932, there were multiple armed attacks occurring every day. For several years prior, the Ukrainians had been killing their own farm animals. They had destroyed about 50% of the livestock in the USSR. This contributed to the famine since many of these animals were used for food, but also, the horses were used to plow the fields.

The government did not “confiscate the bountiful harvest.” It was a real problem with the Ukrainians destroying the food and farm animals, so it’s true that the state sent soldiers and agents down there to seize grain before it could be destroyed. The grain unfortunately was needed to feed the cities, in particular the army. Ukrainians died disproportionately because this was where the crop failure due to wheat rust was the worst.

It’s not true that the Ukrainians were locked in a prison to starve. It was a very difficult time. The crop had failed, with a famine harvest. People were desperately trying to flee the Ukraine to go to other parts of the USSR. In fact, people were on the move all of the USSR, mostly looking for food. It was a great big mess, because workers need to stay in one place for any work to get done.

If the Ukrainians all left the Ukraine, there would be another famine harvest the next year since there would be no workers in the fields to grow crops. So, yes, they did try to prevent people from moving around, but people kept moving around anyway.

Fortunately, the next year was a bumper crop.

There were no 7-10 million deliberate killings (genocide) in the Ukraine in 1932-33. It’s true that there were 390,000 state killings associated with dekulakization in the Ukraine in 1932-33. If the Ukrainians wish to play that up, they can be my guest. But they seem to have an intellectual hard-on for that juicy 10 million dead number.

How did the “7-10 million” figure pop up?

The figure kept going up, because the Ukrainians kept raising it. After WW2, it was decided that the Nazis had killed 6 million Jews. The Ukrainians were upset about this because it made their Holodomor seem lesser.

Plus, the Ukrainian nationalists who play up the Holodomor were deeply involved in Nazism and mass Jew-killing genocide in the Ukraine after the Germans invaded. The Ukrainian nationalists had Jewish blood of the Holocaust all over their hands, and now the Holocaust was beating their precious Holodomor in the numbers racket too. Something had to be done.

The 7 million figure was tossed out. Why? To outdo the 6 million of the Jewish Holocaust and beat the Jews at the numbers game. Also, to play up the “Stalin was worse than Hitler” card, since the Ukrainians were so deeply in bed with the Nazis, this was meant to minimize Nazism as a lesser evil.

To this day, Ukrainian nationalist groups are some of the nastiest anti-Semites out there, more or less unrepentant Nazis. The fake Holodomor thing is part and parcel of their Nazi anti-Semitic project, since supposedly a bunch of Soviet Jews are the ones who “genocided the Ukrainians.”

Over time, they kept adding onto this, and now we have this inflated 7-10 million figure.

One would think that the Ukrainian nationalists could come up with at least one document showing proof of this Holodomor of theirs. The Soviet archives have been opened, including the secret archives of the KGB. It’s all out there for anyone to look at.

With the Nazis, researchers have been able to go over their documentation scrupulously and find documents showing that the Nazi leadership was behind the Holocaust, as much as they tried to cover it up with euphemisms. That the Ukrainians can’t come up with one piece of paper to prove their case is telling.

What’s strange is that the collectivization project is probably what saved the world from Nazism. The USSR of the 1930’s was involved in breakneck industrialization, since Stalin knew that the Nazis and or the West were going to attack them. They had industrialize quickly or be destroyed. The buildup of the USSR during that period was one of the greatest and most extensive national developmental projects in history.

Collectivization was needed to feed the workers in the cities and to free up workers from the fields. Previously, Russian farmers farmed small, unproductive farms that barely grew enough food for one family. This wasn’t going to feed an industrial society, so collectivization was done. The result of this world-shattering developmental project was that the USSR was able to defeat the Nazis. 89% of Germans killed in the war were killed by the USSR. For all intents and purposes, the USSR won the war for us and saved the world from Hitler.

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More On Hugo Chavez and the Media

A commenter refers to this Guardian post on “Hugo Chavez the dictator.”

That article is a lie. The law that passed made the stations fill out a bunch of paperwork so they could be monitored better. Just routine bureaucratic stuff. Those opposition stations deliberately refused to fill out that paperwork, knowing full well that they would get shut down. They basically shut themselves down on purpose in order to make Chavez look like a dictator. I believe that most of those stations have been reinstated after they filled out their paperwork.

The “yanking the advertisements off the air” is not true. The law limits the stations to one ad break per 30 minutes. I’m not sure what the purpose of that is, but it applies to all stations, pro-government, anti- and neutral.

The part about “forcing them to carry Chavez speeches” isn’t really true. They do want all of the media to have to carry important government announcements. During the coup, for instance, the government was constantly sending out announcements regarding this or that, mostly in opposition to the coup. The Opposition media completely blocked out all government statements and showed soaps and sports nonstop instead. No one could figure out what was going on because the Opposition had all the media.

So, yeah, they have to carry some government statements, but not that many. If you think about it, every time Obama gives a speech, all the US stations are all over it, right? Including Fox? But down there, they just lock out all government statements like they don’t exist. That doesn’t seem fair or right.

The law that the MSM is complaining about so much is a pretty reasonable media responsibility law, similar to that in many countries. I believe it is almost identical to the law in Canada, for instance.

The draft law the piece referred to is troubling, but Chavez himself opposed it. It was the Chavista legislature that proposed that. The Attorney General’s statement was also disturbing, but the law never got passed anyway. You know, some dictatorship, the Chavistas can’t even pass their own laws!

I don’t agree with a lot of the government’s hard line on the media, and at times, I wish they would just blow the Opposition media off. I know they’re assholes, but so what? Let the dogs bark.

Globovision is still on the air 7 months after that article was written, but I think they are moving to cable.

On the regular airwaves, 25% of the stations are pro-government, 20% are Opposition, and 55% are neutral. The neutral ones carry both pro- and anti-Chavez people, often in equal numbers, and they have some of the most ferocious anti-Chavez folks as regular guests.

The article is not correct that Venezuela is the worst in the Hemisphere. In Colombia, they just murder the Opposition media, so it frankly barely even exists. In Peru, there is a law called “apology for terrorism.” It’s used pretty broadly.

In Colombia, Peru, Chile, Panama, Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras, there is no opposition media that I’m aware of. The elite has almost the entire media spectrum. I’m not sure of the situation in Mexico, Ecuador, Paraguay, Bolivia and Uruguay, but the elite seems to have most to all of the media in those places too. There is a Left media in Argentina, but it’s one daily paper. There is probably some Left media in Brazil, mostly newspapers. In Argentina and Brazil, the elite control TV. There is opposition media in Nicaragua from the Sandinistas.

So really, Venezuela is probably one of the few places in the Hemisphere, along with Nicaragua, Bolivia and Ecuador, where there is a ferocious and vibrant Opposition media at all. Keep in mind that the elite control the media in Latin America. They almost always control the state too, so in essence there’s never any opposition media in Latin America, except when a leftwing, anti-elite government comes in. Then the entire media spectrum of the nation lines up against the state. So the strange truth is that Venezuela has one of the loudest, most belligerent, most vibrant and most powerful opposition medias in the region.

Some dictatorship.

What Chavez is trying to do is to get away from the elite media model towards community radio and TV. He has been giving out licenses by the handful for community radio and TV stations. It’s true that most of these smaller stations support him, since most communities support him, but community stations in anti-Chavez regions have anti-Chavez community media. Even the Chavez-supporting community media is often extremely critical of the regime, when they feel that they are screwing up. Someone needs to keep the government on its toes.

What he’s doing is democratizing the media space, moving away from the typical model in capitalism where an elite, say the top 1% of the population, owns nearly the entire media spectrum, print and non-print. A better model is a democratic media.

The “mounting economic problems” in Venezuela are due to the worldwide recession or depression that the US elite set off with their financial machinations and fraud. Venezuela is experiencing the same thing that everyone else is, it’s not Chavez’ fault. During Chavez’ term, the economy has grown like gangbusters.

The commenter also refers to this article to claim that “Hugo Chavez is a dictator.” This was the defeat of the proposed Constitution rewrite. There were good and bad aspects of it. The bit about censoring the media in a national emergency was an attempt to make sure the situation that occurred during the coup would not recur. I supported his bid to run for life. If Venezuelans want to keep re-electing him over and over, let them. That sounds like democracy to me.

I think the bit about seizing private property was for economic sabotage. A lot of the capitalist food producers are engaging in economic sabotage to try to bring down the regime, and it’s hard to figure out how to deal with them!

The inflation is occurring, or was occurring in 2007 at the time the article was written, due to an overheated economy that is growing too fast. You know, the same guy who is ruining the economy is also presiding over an economy that is growing so wildly it is getting inflationary? The “student opposition” is like the “student opposition to FARC” in Colombia. Rightwing students from moneyed classes are rallying at their expensive private universities. Yeah, some “student movement.” Just like the 60’s, huh?

The main thing is that Chavez’ constitutional reform was defeated. How is that a dictator puts his laws up for vote and the people vote them down? What kind of dictatorship is that? A lot of Chavistas voted against that law, and I don’t blame them.

I admit that Chavez bothers me at times with his polarizing rhetoric and bombastic blathering. The guy’s a demagogue, let’s face it. But so is Castro, so was Daniel Ortega, so was Juan Peron. Latin Americans love their caudillos and their demagogues.

More Lies About Hugo Chavez: Corruption, Food Shortages and Infrastructure Deterioration

mikey, a Venezuelan expat commenter living in Canada, writes:

Hey guys, I only lived there from 2005-09, so I guess that makes me typical opposition. I saw the deterioration, shortages and increase in crime with my own eyes. You seem to be seeing things through “Hugo blinders” Ask anyone if they think their nice red franelas make up for the lineups for sugar, cooking oil, coffee, chicken etc. The answer is always no.

Chavez and his crook friends and family are skimming @ $2usd/bbl for their personal fortunes, the rest is being wasted on his pet projects, which are nothing more than troughs for his lick spittle followers. Wake up guys!!

The shortages are occurring because the capitalists are deliberately creating them to try to create chaos and bring down the government. Chavez has put in price controls on a lot of those goods so that low income people can afford them. In the past, in Venezuela, most people had a hard time getting enough food to eat.

Chavez is trying to make sure people have affordable food with the price controls, and the capitalists have responded by deliberately withholding food from the market to create artificial shortages. There is not much Chavez can do about this economic sabotage, but in some cases, he is just nationalizing capitalist saboteur firms.

The long lines are usually for the cheap, government subsidized food in the new state markets that Chavez has set up. At regular markets, there are no long lines. It sucks to have long lines, but at least they have cheap food for once.

There has been no deterioration at all. In fact, Chavez has been rebuilding the infrastructure of Venezuela. Previous governments never spent one nickel on infrastructure other than in the moneyed areas.

I agree that there are environmental problems, but that’s a regional thing and the previous governments were terrible on the environment too and if the Opposition gets in, they would thrash the environment just the same.

There is corruption under Chavez, but Hugo himself is not involved. Corruption has been going on as long as Venezuela has existed. All of the previous governments were corrupt, an Opposition government would be extremely corrupt, and yes, Chavez’ regime is somewhat corrupt.

But in most corrupt regimes, the corrupt people just steal all the state funds, and there is nothing left for the people. In Chavez’ case, there is a lot left over for the people, so I’m more sympathetic. Venezuelans are just profoundly corrupt people period.

That Chavez projects are boondoggles that benefit no one but his pals is a long-term Opposition claim. The Opposition simply disagrees with using state funds to better the lives of Venezuelans. In the whole history of Venezuela, the state never spent any money to help the people. For the first time in history, the state is doing just that, so the Opposition is furious. Keep in mind that any state development and funding will always be characterized by the Opposition as wasteful, useless, corrupt pork boondoggles that benefit no one.

What’s the truth? Interviews on the street show that your average Venezuelan feels that the regime has improved their lives in myriad ways. In the barrios, state funds fix up deteriorating housing, pay for wiring, water, sewage, roads and plumbing, things these places have never seen before. Food is more available and more affordable than ever before, as is medical care, education, cultural activities and local media. Chavez is bettering the lives of the poorer majority, and they appreciate it, which is why they keep re-electing him by huge margins.

Another commenter noted that Chavez’ government is talking about regulating the Internet. If you read the US MSM, it would seem that Chavez has shut down almost the entire Opposition media in the country. First of all, we need to understand what the Opposition media is like. They are like Fox News on steroids, 24-7, 365, no let-up.

I remember a few years back, a European diplomat went to Venezuela. He had heard all of the stories about Chavez the dictator and how the Opposition media had all been closed down. The diplomat spoke Spanish, and he turned on his TV in his hotel room. Going through the channels, almost all of the political ones were Opposition channels. Their attacks on Chavez were so outrageous, continuous and over the top that it was almost comical. The diplomat started laughing and decided that the “dictator” thing was a bunch of crap.

The diplomat met with Chavez later and said that the Opposition stations had been calling him The Devil. Chavez laughed and said, “That’s the least bad thing they get to say about me.”

This particular Internet site is run by a large Venezuelan Opposition radio channel. They’re always over the top and crazy, but no really cared before.

However, recently they published big headlines on their website saying that several of Chavez top officials had been killed. It wasn’t true, and it caused a lot of panic in the country. What’s going on here is they are publishing death threats. What if Fox News ran headlines for hours on end saying that several top Obama officials had been killed, presumably assassinated? What would Americans’ reaction to this outrage be?

Another thing the Opposition has been doing lately is giving out the names, home addresses and phone numbers of top Chavez officials. They have also published photos of some spas where they work out and schools where their kids go to school. The implication is obvious: threat.

Keep in mind that the Opposition riots almost every week in Venezuela. Lately they carry guns when they riot. Recently there have been some sniper shootings and Chavez supporters have been killed. Opposition rioters regularly destroy property and burn tires. One of their favorite things to do is to attack the “missions” that Chavez has set up in the barrios. These are generally health clinics but also dish out a lot of other government aid. Opposition thugs regularly attack the missions with objects and try to burn them down.

Keep in mind that the Opposition media cheers this shit on all the way. What if there were violent riots in the US all the time, and Fox News was cheering it on? What would Americans say?

It’s hard to understand the media situation in Venezuela because you can’t compare the media and political situation to the US.

"Nothing Personal," by Alpha Unit

Theodore G. Bilbo – governor of Mississippi, Senator from Mississippi, enduring icon of White supremacy – was dying. At his side, eventually, was Leon Lewis, the editor of Negro South, a Black newspaper. Bilbo stated for the record:

I am against the social intermingling of Negroes and Whites but I hold nothing personal against the Negroes as a race.

Theodore Bilbo’s views of Black people, and some of his proposals aimed at Black people, had been showcased proudly throughout his career in politics. He had spent his life specifying everything he had against Negroes. So had be been dishonest then, or was he being dishonest now?
And how was this “clarification” supposed to elevate him in the eyes of Blacks? “You know all that stuff I said about Black people? Well, it was nothing personal.”
When people say things like this, it actually demonstrates how little regard they have for your intellect. They expect you to swallow whole the notion that someone can insist on being socially superior to you and not really have anything against you.
But recognizing this contradiction doesn’t really make me angry. I actually feel pity for someone like this.
It can’t be easy to go through life knowing full well that Black people are human beings – with all the same human impulses, strengths, and weaknesses that you have – but having to maintain a public posture that asserts the opposite.
How do you convince yourself that another human being isn’t human?
This isn’t an exaggeration. If there are things you find completely unacceptable for yourself but you have no problem advocating for me – solely because I’m Black – then you’ve convinced yourself that I’m not human.
In the face of all the evidence that I’m essentially no different from you, you’re going to have to construct quite a mental edifice. And keep yourself locked in it. Twenty-four/seven.
You’ll need to have this concrete image of me inside your head at all times. It’ll be a lot easier for you to turn me into this object called a Nigger than it’ll be for you to recognize that I’m actually one of a kind, as you are. That I’m vibrant and variable, as you are. That people who don’t know me have no business claiming to. The way you see yourself.
So there you go, in your asylum, with your special safety goggles you go through life wearing, where every Black person is this object. And an object being inanimate, it doesn’t require any special consideration. It’ll never know the difference, will it?
For all your insistence on being respected because of Who You Are, you haven’t earned anybody’s respect. Because you’re a coward. It doesn’t take any guts to be you. Shutting yourself off in your world where everything is black and white (ha!) and simple and pure and uncluttered (nothing at all like the real world). Where These People belong here and Those People belong there.
Do you know what a fool you sound like? Do you know how puny and frightened you really look?

“Nothing Personal,” by Alpha Unit

Theodore G. Bilbo – governor of Mississippi, Senator from Mississippi, enduring icon of White supremacy – was dying. At his side, eventually, was Leon Lewis, the editor of Negro South, a Black newspaper. Bilbo stated for the record:

I am against the social intermingling of Negroes and Whites but I hold nothing personal against the Negroes as a race.

Theodore Bilbo’s views of Black people, and some of his proposals aimed at Black people, had been showcased proudly throughout his career in politics. He had spent his life specifying everything he had against Negroes. So had be been dishonest then, or was he being dishonest now?

And how was this “clarification” supposed to elevate him in the eyes of Blacks? “You know all that stuff I said about Black people? Well, it was nothing personal.”

When people say things like this, it actually demonstrates how little regard they have for your intellect. They expect you to swallow whole the notion that someone can insist on being socially superior to you and not really have anything against you.

But recognizing this contradiction doesn’t really make me angry. I actually feel pity for someone like this.

It can’t be easy to go through life knowing full well that Black people are human beings – with all the same human impulses, strengths, and weaknesses that you have – but having to maintain a public posture that asserts the opposite.

How do you convince yourself that another human being isn’t human?

This isn’t an exaggeration. If there are things you find completely unacceptable for yourself but you have no problem advocating for me – solely because I’m Black – then you’ve convinced yourself that I’m not human.

In the face of all the evidence that I’m essentially no different from you, you’re going to have to construct quite a mental edifice. And keep yourself locked in it. Twenty-four/seven.

You’ll need to have this concrete image of me inside your head at all times. It’ll be a lot easier for you to turn me into this object called a Nigger than it’ll be for you to recognize that I’m actually one of a kind, as you are. That I’m vibrant and variable, as you are. That people who don’t know me have no business claiming to. The way you see yourself.

So there you go, in your asylum, with your special safety goggles you go through life wearing, where every Black person is this object. And an object being inanimate, it doesn’t require any special consideration. It’ll never know the difference, will it?

For all your insistence on being respected because of Who You Are, you haven’t earned anybody’s respect. Because you’re a coward. It doesn’t take any guts to be you. Shutting yourself off in your world where everything is black and white (ha!) and simple and pure and uncluttered (nothing at all like the real world). Where These People belong here and Those People belong there.

Do you know what a fool you sound like? Do you know how puny and frightened you really look?

Map of the Romance Speaking World

Here is a very nice map of the parts of the world that speak a Romance language, in whole or in part. The main languages covered here are Spanish, Portuguese, French, Italian and Romanian.

Nice map of the Romance languages of the world. Click to enlarge.

The heavy Spanish speaking zone is Spain, Rio Muni, New Mexico and Latin America except for Brazil, the Guyanas, Haiti and some Caribbean islands that speak French. To a lesser extent, it is spoken Spanish Sahara and Belize. To a much lesser extent, it is spoken in  parts of the US and in the Philippines where it is a dying colonial language.

The heavy Portuguese speaking zone is Brazil, Portugal, Angola, Mozambique, other parts of Africa and East Timor. In the latter countries, it is a lingua franca.

French is heavily spoken in France, Quebec, French Guyana, French Polynesia, Belgium and Switzerland, less heavily in much of Africa, especially Congo, the Republic of Congo, Cameroon, Gabon, Central African Republic, Chad, Niger, Mali, Togo, Cote d’Ivorie, Burkino Faso, Senegal, West Africa, Central Africa, Djibouti and Madagascar, less in the rest of Canada, and even less in Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Mauritania, Morocco, Tunisia, Algeria and Louisiana, where it is a dying colonial language overtaken by national languages in Southeast Asia, Arabic in Northwest Africa and English in Louisiana

Italian is spoken heavily in Italy and less so in Libya and Albania.

Romanian is spoken heavily in Romania, Moldova and Serbia.

The “Hugo Chavez Caused a Violent Crime Wave” Lie

tulio repeats an odd propaganda claim from the lying MSM about Hugo Chavez’ Venezuela:

If things are getting better under Chavez, explain why the murder rate quadrupled under his era!

Caracas is now the most dangerous city in South America. This happened under Chavez. People used to flee the crime from Columbia and go to Venezuela. Now it’s the other way around. Only Ciudad Juarez in Mexico is more violent in Latin America.

There’s long been an extremely high crime and violent crime rate in Venezuela for unknown reasons. Lots of poverty, extremes of wealth and lots of the population have Black in them. There was terrible crime and violent crime before Chavez, and it’s still bad now.

The opposition has never been able to state a theory on how Chavez caused this crime wave! Their theory is that Chavez helped the poor, and this made them hate rich people even more, and now they are waging some crime war against the rich. But I think almost all that crime is happening in the poorer areas.

Thing is, it’s probably being dealt with a lot more under Chavez. You see, before, 80% of the population lived in these horrible slums, and the elite just didn’t give two flying fucks what went down in those slums. They could all rape and slaughter each other for all they cared, as long as the poor did not prey on the rich. So the elite just shrugged their shoulders at all of the violent and property crime and did nothing about it. I imagine that Chavez is at least trying to stop it.

Once again, how can you blame a President for crime? I mean, there are criminals, they do bad things, how is the government making the criminals commit crimes? I don’t get it.

Actually, what you said about people fleeing is not true. Hundreds of thousands of Colombians have fled Colombia for Venezuela. As violent as Venezuela is, Colombia is way worse. Further, almost all of these Colombians say they are much better off in every way in Venezuela than they were in Colombia. The only Venezuelans taking off for Colombians are the moneyed classes.

You gotta stop reading the MSM. Just about every story they write about Chavez is a lie.

And if Chavez is an evil failure for having lots of crime, what does that say about Africa? About the US’ buddies, Mexico and Colombia? About the Caribbean? About Papua New Guinea? About Russia? About South Africa? About Detroit, Oakland, Kansas City and New Orleans?

Are you sure, that you, tulio, a Black man, want to head down this violent crime = failure road? I mean, high Black violent crime is the usual winning card of the White racists’ “niggers destroy civilization” deck of cards.

Update: I don’t have time to get into the whole “Chavez and crime,” thing, but this article is a good start. Truth is, almost all of the crime is happening in the poorer barrios. It’s always been concentrated there, and the moneyed classes never gave a fuck before. All of a sudden, now that they can use it as a weapon against Chavez, the moneyed classes suddenly have a profound and deep caring for the barrio masses who suffer this crime wave? Think about it. Do you think they suddenly started worrying about barrio crime victims when Chavez showed up, or is it just a nice club to beat Hugo over the head with?

Looking over the statistics further, the 4X increase appears to be false, but homicide has risen, maybe from 50-100%. Call it 75%. That’s a lot, but it’s not 300%! Looking deeper, it appears that crime as a whole has been flat (the % of Venezuelans claiming to be crime victims has been flat for a decade), and robbery has either been flat or declined, homicide itself has gone up.

The “Hugo Chavez is a Dictator” Lie

Commenter tulio repeats many MSM lies about Hugo Chavez in Venezuela. It’s understandable that he’s mistaken, since if all you read is the lying US press, you would come away with exactly the opinion that tulio has:

As for Venezuela’s supposed prosperity. It’s nothing more than riding the tide of rising oil. Venezuela would be doing better no matter what if their number one export is oil and it cost 3x as much as it did a decade ago. I don’t give any great accolades to Chavez for it.

All during the oil boom, 80% of the population lived in poverty in horrible slums around the big cities and in the shits in the rural areas. At one point, 51% could only afford one meal a day. That’s what brought Chavez in in the first place. He was the voice of those 51% who had nothing to eat, the 80% who were in poverty during the oil boom years.

So, yeah, the economy might have grown without Chavez, but all of the growth would have gone to the top 20%, just as it does everywhere neoliberalism is tried, and as is the general policy in Latin America. In Latin America, growth usually only benefits maybe the 20%, top 1/3 if you’re lucky. The rest are just SOL. It’s always been this way, and this is why there are revolutions down there.

Also we need to look around the world at oil-rich lands that are well and truly fucked, even during this recent massive oil boom. The economies of Equatorial Guinea, Nigeria, Angola, Colombia and Mexico have all reaped massive benefits from the oil boom. Where has all the money gone in these places? Not to the people. A tiny elite just steals every last nickel.

In Equatorial Guinea, Nigeria and Angola, the conditions of the population are appalling, with tens of millions living in absolute poverty, with no running water, electricity, plumbing, sewage treatment, roads, schools, nothing. Furthermore, many even lack food to eat – there is tremendous malnutrition in all those places. Health figures in terms of longevity, infant mortality and maternal mortality are off the charts. So really, just having oil wealth is no guarantee that you have a decent country.

It’s not true that Venezuela a dictatorship. It’s probably the freest democracy in Latin America. The opposition has 2/3 of the airwaves, all of cable and most of the newspapers and magazines. They use this to blast Chavez with the most insane and outrageous lies 24-7. It would be like Fox News X 10.

Further, the opposition, including the opposition media, are all traitors. They all supported the coup in 2002 which was organized by the US. Those traitors are lucky to not be in prison, or even to still be alive. I think Chavez should have executed them for treason, but that’s just me. The opposition media, in addition to their mind-boggling and constant lying, regularly advocates assassinating Chavez and staging another military coup.

Chavez is finally starting to have it with these threats, so a few of those outlets got shut down, but I think they just went to cable. These fuckers are really playing with fire, trying to provoke a response.

A few years back, the opposition was having regular “demonstrations” around the clock, day in and day out, to try to topple the regime. These were more like violent riots. Chavez’ cops mostly just let these idiots riot, block roads, throw rocks, set tires on fire, etc. They barely even arrested people. In the US, there would have been a massive police response at the very least.

The US has repeatedly tried to overthrow Chavez through all sorts of legal and extralegal means. All of “liberal” Obama’s fancy new military bases in Colombia are meant to threaten Chavez militarily. Chavez is right to be paranoid about US invasion, but I’m not sure if we are going to do it.

It’s often said that Chavez is a dictator because, why? He wins elections. He’s won something like eight elections so far. Why is that? Because the low income population, neglected for decades, keeps voting for him. It’s said he’s a dictator because his party controls the Legislative Branch. That’s right, they do, because the same people keep re-electing them by huge margins. It’s said Chavez is a dictator because his party has most of the mayoral, gubernatorial and city council seats. True, that’s because the same people keep voting them in.

He’s said to be a dictator for “packing the Supreme Court” but Roosevelt did the same thing, and anyway, that Court was corrupt to the core. The entire Court supported and gave legal approval to the US coup in 2002! They’re lucky they weren’t executed.

The crap you read all the time about Chavez “shutting down the media.” Recall that the entire private media was intimately involved in the 2002 coup, from planning to execution stages to everything in between. They’re lucky to be alive. Despite that, Chavez kept all the stations running.

But in addition to their lies, they’re always advocating assassinating Chavez and promoting another coup. Chavez has finally had it with this crap and he’s starting to shut them down for that. But then they just go to cable which is unregulated. And the opposition still has 2/3 of the public airwaves anyway.

Also, the government announced some new licensing rules, which involved a bunch of routine paperwork the stations had to fill in by deadline or have their licenses revoked. To provoke a crisis, a lot of these asshole opposition radio and TV stations simply refused to fill out the papers! Then when the deadline came, the government went around and shut down some of the idiots who pulled this stunt. As you can see, they are engaging in a totally provocative behavior to try to make Chavez look like a dictator and provoke a crisis.

The “Chilean Miracle” Lie

tulio notes, remarking on the “Chilean economic miracle” under Pinochet.

I have a Venezuelan…he fled Venezuela and now lives in Chile, a more free market country, and btw the most prosperous in Latin America. And Pinochet had a lot to do with Chile’s prosperity, even though he was a bastard. If it weren’t for him, it would be another 3rd world Latin American country. He turned that country’s economy around.

First of all, Chile is not the most prosperous in Latin America. Mexico is quite a bit wealthier than Chile. Mexico seem like a First World country to you? 27% of the population doesn’t even have sewage treatment.

Second, it’s debatable whether Chile is more free market than Venezuela. Chile has long had a deep social democracy in place, and Venezuela has never had crap. Much of Chavez so-called evil socialism is just him trying to put the basics of a social democratic system and a civilizational infrastructure in place where there never was one – he’s spending money on education, medical care, roads, literacy, land reform, food subsidies, housing, electrification, plumbing, sewage, water, etc.

At least in Venezuela, you have a President who is committed to the entire low income and working class portion of the population. There’s no need for him to care about, work for or help the well-off, since they’re already sitting pretty as it is.

In Chile, the low-income and working class population pretty much get a gigantic Fuck You. The state only works for the 1/3 or so upper middle class, and everyone else can buzz off. I imagine this is still the case under Bachelet, but I’m not sure.

Pinochet had nothing whatsoever to do with Chile’s “prosperity.” Truth is he ruined that country. His radical libertarianism from the Chicago School quickly caused one of the worst depressions in history. In order to climb out of it, he had to repudiate neoliberal orthodoxy and involve the state, government spending and labor in his economic project (Keynesianism).

Even that more statist project did not do well. All of that economic growth under that Pinochet clown was just the climback from the damned Depression that he caused at the start! Big deal! By the end of his term, in 1989, Chile’s GDP finally matched of Allende, the socialist whom he replaced. IOW, 16 years of total economic flatlining and failure.

To illustrate, let me give some hypothetical figures, since I don’t know the real figures. Say per capita income was $8,000/year when Allende left office. Pinochet so nuked the economy that in a few years, PCI was something like $2,000/year. From 1978-1989, there was huge economic growth, true, but they were just climbing out the rut. By 1989, his last year in office, PCI finally made it up back to $8,000 year again. Talk about spinning your wheels.

The upper classes did much better though under Pinochet, maybe the top 1/3. Everyone else got royally screwed. Average wages declined by 35% under Pinochet (!). He declared total war on unions and the working class, and workers got screwed, rude and tatooed.

Chile is doing ok now with a much more state-interventionist economic scheme under a Socialist President, Bachelet. Much of Chile’s relatively good human development figures are due to its deep socialist and social democratic, especially health care and education: Chile has been a pretty socialist state for a long time now. Chile has a decent national health care system, and that’s the reason for its commendable health figures. Malnutrition figures are also very low; Chile does a good job of feeding its people.

Education is another matter. About 1/2 of the public schools are literally falling apart. I mean literally, as in collapsing. There’s no agenda to fix them, because the pricks who run the country all send their kids to private schools (this is how it works all over Latin America).

It’s no surprise tulio has been brainwashed about Pinochet. The US media has told nothing but lies about the guy.

The gap between the rich and the poor in Chile is absolutely insane, and the racism and class hatred is rife and toxic. The light-skinned well to do live in gated compounds or with high walls around their sumptuous homes, often with barbed wire and guard dogs. They live that way because of the out of control crime rate, especially theft, by the darker-skinned lower classes. The crime rate is a symptom of the insane inequality and class hatred in that place. Chile is just another typical Latin American shithole, a little fancier than the rest of them.

I’ve known some Chileans; their contempt for poor and working class people was palpable, and they were openly and outrageously racist against Chilean Indians. And these people were supposedly “leftwingers.”

Update: In the comments section, the brilliant James Schipper adds some good hard figures to the argument. The rich-poor gap he talks about can be represented as a Gini coefficient.

The main thing about the Chile was that the upper classes, maybe the top 1/3 or so, totally cleaned up under Pinochet. Pinochet merely dramatically shifted income from the bottom 2/3 of the population to the to top 1/3, so obviously he’s wildly popular among the well to do in Latin America. As a socialist, I’m not supposed to support Reverse Robin Hood policies. Any socialist doing that may as well hang it up and just become a Republican. Or join the Democratic Leadership Committee (DLC), same thing.

It’s fascinating that neoliberals and libertarians continue to rave about this fake “miracle”. Either they’re lying, or they’re idiots.

Some people never learn.

Schipper:

Excellent post! In the early 1980s, the unemployment rate in Chile reached 25%. Pinochet was forced to nationalize the entire banking sector and reverse many of his policies.The Chilean economic experiment consisted of total liberalization of imports and capital inflows while maintaining a fixed exchange rate. This led to a massive trade deficit financed by money borrowed from abroad. Much of the imports consisted of consumption goods for the richest 1/3. In other words, Chile was going into debt in order to finance upper-class consumption.

Pinochet also privatized pensions, but guess what, the military kept their government pension plan.

According to the CIA World Factbook, the richest 10% of Chilean households have 41.7% of national income while the poorest 10% have 1.6%, which is a ratio of 26:1. Bear in mind that in poor households there are on average more people.

It seems that any government that pursues neoliberal economic policies will be praised by MSM in the West while any government that does the opposite will be excoriated.

Problems With Social Democracy and Progressive Taxation Under Capitalism

Commenter tulio notes, in favor of social democracy:

I’ll take capitalism any day, warts and all. I just think we need some elements of socialist safeguards and need progressive taxation to try and stop the rich from getting too rich.

The problem is that under capitalism it is very difficult to put in the socialist safeguards you discuss. The capitalists fight tooth and nail like insane wildcats every step of the way trying every trick in the book. Often they just say fuck it and sabotage the economy, throw a military coup or start a contra armed guerrilla movement. Then once the socialist safeguards are put in the capitalists fight to get rid of them like madmen year in and year out until they can dismantle them.

They try every trick in the book, deliberately bankrupting the state (like here in the US), capital flight, you name it. If your country owes debt to the IMF or World Bank, World Capitalism will force you to dismantle your entire socialist safeguard system, plus tons of other stuff, as a condition on getting more loans.

Furthermore, in most of the 3rd World, capitalists have so captured the state that it’s impossible to put in any socialist safeguards. Any new person who gets in and tries to do that gets threatened by the IMF and World Bank and the international investors. The lenders threaten to cut off new loans and the investors threaten to pull out all their money. So each new person who gets elected can’t put in any socialist safeguards, and they can’t do much of anything but neoliberal shit, as the international bankers and investors are calling the shots.

There are similar problems with progressive taxation or taxing business and corporations much at all. The nature of capitalism makes it very difficult to put this in, and once again, as soon as you do, the capitalists start fighting it and never quit until they get rid of progressive taxation, reduce or eliminate taxes on business and corporations and and consequently defund the state. By defunding the state, they end up wiping out all of the programs we discussed above.

This project is continuous under capitalism. So once you put in social democracy and reasonable taxation, you will have to fight the capitalists like mad every single year forever in order to keep it in. The capitalists will use every devious trick in the book to try to get rid of progressive taxation too. Further, once you wipe out sensible taxation, the only way to put it back is to “raise taxes,” which, at least here in the US, is a political death sentence.

As if all of this was not enough, consider another thing. Under capitalism, the capitalists capture almost the entire media. It’s not uncommon for reactionary pro-capitalist factions to control up to 99% of the nation’s media. In the US, they control 100% of the nation’s large media. In order to put in social democracy or progressive taxation, first you will have to fight the entirety of this media behemoth, with all of its weight and brainwashing power.

These capitalist media machines are brilliant at “creating culture” and brainwashing workers, consumers, low income and middle income people into opposing their own interests and supporting the interests of their capitalist enemies. Sure, in some cases, you have a population savvy enough to figure out they’re being lied to with megaphones 24-7, everywhere they go, but it’s not easy to do.

Consider also that at the same time, capitalists everywhere on Earth attack state education. In the 3rd World, the idea is to keep the people stupid. An educated people is harder to brainwash. So in order to get a savvy population, first you need to educate them, but the capitalists will keep you from doing that. Now where do you start?

In addition to running the media, under capitalism, the capitalists actually create the culture. Marx noted this. In capitalist society, the culture of the nation is that of the ruling class. And in general it is. Your average poor or low income worker under capitalism has the mindset of a ruling class millionaire! Those are his values, political and otherwise. He’s living in a hovel, but he thinks like a corporate magnate. It’s magical brainwashing.

Gramsci called this cultural hegemony. The capitalists create a cultural hegemony in capitalist states. The only way to get anything progressive done is to create a progressive counter-hegemonic discourse and try to institute that to do battle with the cultural discourse of the ruling class.

Cultural hegemony is a serious problem. Look how many American workers, low income people, middle class folks and consumers oppose their own interests and talk like corporate boardroom types. Their minds have basically been colonized and taken over like in Invasion of the Body Snatchers. Many of these fools have invested decades in such foolish thinking and are not about to give it up anytime soon. It becomes an important part of their identity and even of entire communities and harder to get out than the worst weeds.

On top of that, in most capitalist countries, the ruling classes who oppose socialist safeguards and reasonable taxation just out and out buy the elections.

In much of the world, the same folks control the military. Even on the outside chance that someone decent gets in who can put in socialist safeguards and democratic taxation, typically there is quickly a military coup and the capitalists seize power again, undo all of the progressive changes, then to drive the point home, run death squads around the country for some time slaughtering people to set an example, as in, “Don’t try this again!”

In the future, people realize that if they elect a progressive person, there may be a coup afterward, which will be bad enough, but after that, death squads will run amok for years, and they may just get arrested, beaten, tortured or killed. It’s a warning to stay away from progressive politics for the rest of your life.

So, while I support social democracy and democratic taxation in theory, I’m well aware of the minefields that the capitalists have laid in the paths of doing these sensible and decent things.

The “Communism Starves the People” Bullshit

Commenter tulio notes on this post, complaining about Communism:

Seems like there’s always some famine that happens in communist countries that wipes out hundreds of thousands if not millions. Look at China’s great famines. Cambodians had to resort to eating spiders they dug up just to survive. I think these were man-made events. Capitalism has it’s flaws, but Communism is just fucked up to the core. There hasn’t been one example of a communist success.

At least not one that didn’t have to throttle back and incorporate capitalism into their economy, like China. And then that’s not even getting into all the other shit communist governments do like the censorship of the internet, lack of freedom to protest, etc.

I’ll take capitalism any day, warts and all. I just think we need some elements of socialist safeguards and need progressive taxation to try and stop the rich from getting too rich.

I’m no Orthodox Commie by any means, despite what everyone believes. I’m just a socialist. That said, I tend to support most forms of socialism that actually work well (I don’t support fake socialism that doesn’t work, and I don’t support all Communist states). As Communism is a form of socialism, I tend to look favorably on it, but then I also look favorably on European social democracy, since I consider that also a form of socialism.

I support state funding of education, medicine, food, shelter, corrections, telecommunications, military, infrastructure building, public health, libraries, parks and wildlife reserves, R & D, social safety nets, housing, utilities, and maybe even a few industries here or there. I’m basically a Big Government with a capital B type of guy.

That said, I would like to defend the Communist record against one of the worst slanders, that “Communism equals starvation.” Not true, it’s actually capitalism equals starvation.

There were continuous famines in China under capitalism. In 1949, life expectancy was only 32 years in capitalist China. The rural people lived on the edge of starvation and death all the time. Read The Good Earth by Pearl Buck to see what it was like. From 1949-1980, Mao increased life expectancy from 32 to 65. That’s the greatest increase in life expectancy that the world has ever seen.

Furthermore, the Communists built that country up from nothing. Same thing with Russia. Russia was a zero pre-Communism. Communists built that country into a 1st World country. Even now it’s a good place. The press here bitches about Soviet style housing, but it looks decent enough to me. Anyway, compare the East Bloc, the former USSR and China to Latin America, Africa, India, the Philippines or the rest of the capitalist shitholes.

None of those places have the type of horrific slums, cardboard shack shantytowns, or outrageous poverty that you see every day in those capitalist paradises. Imagine if Latin America, the Philippines, India, Bangladesh, Nepal, Indonesia, Afghanistan and the rest of the shitholes had followed a Communist model of development. Sure, they would have run into problems and at some point, they may have moved in the direction of Eastern Europe, the former USSR and China. But let us look at housing alone. All of these places would have adequate housing. Now you can complain about Soviet bloc housing, but I’d rather see that in Brazil, Delhi, Manila and Lima than those horrifying slums and favelas. Medical care would be decent in all of those places – they would have good health figures, especially maternal mortality, infant mortality, and life expectancy. They would have enough to eat – malnutrition rates would be low.

The fact that capitalism everywhere seems to produce these horrific, nightmarish slums with no end or cure for them in sight is reason enough for me to feel that it’s a totally failed system.

There have been a few famines in the Communist countries, true, but you must realize that there’s a continuous famine in the capitalist world, mostly in the 3rd world. As I noted, capitalism starves 14 million a year, year in and year out. A couple years of that, and they’ve beaten everyone starved under Communism put together.

There was a famine in the USSR, true, at the beginning of collectivization. There was another in China around the same time. It seems like if they collectivize ag too quickly, ag collapses for a few years before the new system gets going. If they want to collectivize ag, they ought do so slowly.

It’s a big lie that Communism starves people. It’s capitalism that does that. In general, the Communist states like the USSR, the East Bloc, China, etc. have done a fantastic job of feeding the people, especially compared to the disastrous dietary conditions pre-Communism.

True, the diet is not top-notch, but it fills your stomach. There was a famine in the USSR in 1932, but there’s never been another. There was one in 1962 in China, but there’s never been another. Regular deadly famines spread through both places pre-Communism.

In 1980, Cubans had the highest dietary intake in Latin America. Right now, Cuba has the lowest rate of malnutrition in Latin America. It’s really hard to make this “Communism starves the people” argument. It’s generally not true. Communism is generally pretty good about putting adequate food in people’s stomachs.

And capitalism is not! One thing capitalism cannot ever seem to do is to feed its populations adequately. When I die in 30 years, capitalism still will be failing to feed its own populations. If there’s any indictment of capitalism, that’s it. WTF man? You call that a successful system? You can’t even feed your own people, give me a break.

I’m no fan of the Khmer Rogue, but realize that there was already mass starvation going on when they took over. Agriculture had collapsed in the countryside long since. I don’t agree with emptying the cities to the rural areas like they did, but the reason they did that was to try to get the ag system going again. Presently, capitalist Cambodia has a sky high malnutrition rate.

What happened with Communist economics is more a problem with chronic shortages of food and other basics and luxuries, long lines, housing shortages, etc. Also collectivized ag had poor productivity. The centrally planned economy doesn’t work very well because you have to figure out how much everyone is going to consume every year at the start of the year and plan for that. It’s almost impossible to do that, and that leads to economic deformations. Also, labor productivity was often poor.

The best system in a lot of cases seems to be some sort of mixed economy.

The Head Size/Race/IQ Trainwreck

Repost from the old site.

Average cranial capacities of indigenous populations, sex-combined means. Black: 1450 cc. and over; checkerboard: 1400-1449; crosshatching: 1350-1399; horizontal striping: 1300-1349; diagonal striping: 1250-1299; dots: 1200-1249. From Beals et al., 1984.

Click to enlarge.

White racists like to make a big deal about the supposed correlation between head size and intelligence and race. A nice little chart showing the basically dishonest portrayal they attempt based on cherry-picking data is below. I’ve already dealt with this before, but it’s time to add some new evidence to the theory.

As you can see, in the Americas, there is no good evidence whatsoever for head size and IQ. I am not aware that Amerindian IQ varies in the Americas. The average is apparently 87 across the continent. If anyone can show me that it varies by latitude, please do.

The biggest heads of all are in Northern Chinese (Manchurians), Eskimos, Alaskan natives, Siberians and Mongolians. The Northern Chinese IQ is 105, the Mongolian IQ is 100, the Eskimo IQ is 91, the Alaska native IQ is 87 and the Siberian native IQ is not known.

Note that Amerindians in Canada, Alaska, Mexico (!) and Tierra Del Fuego have larger heads (1400-1449 cc.) than any Europeans, yet Europeans have higher IQ’s than any of these Amerindians, who have IQ’s of 87. In addition, Uralics and Northeast Asians also have very large heads. Northeast Asians have median IQ’s of 105, Uralics have IQ’s of 96 and Amerindians have IQ’s of 87.

Amerindians in most of the US and in most of Latin America, Egyptians, Ugandans and Oceanians (Polynesians, Melanesians and Micronesians) have the same sized heads (1350-1399 cc.) as Northern and Central Europeans.

Northern and Central Europeans have median IQ’s of 98, Amerindians are at 87, Oceanians have median IQ’s of 84.5, and Ugandans have IQ’s of 73.

Some Amerindians, North Africans and Sahelians, Central Indians and Arabs, SE Asian Islanders (Indonesians, Bruneians, Malays and Filipinos), South Africans, New Guineans, and Middle Easterners have the same head sizes (1300-1349 cc.) as Southern Europeans.

Southern Europeans have a median IQ of 93. Amerindians again have IQ’s of 87. SE Asian Islanders have median IQ’s of 89.5, Arabs, North Africans and Middle Easterners have median IQ’s of 83.5. Central Indians and Central Asians have median IQ’s of 82. South Africans have median IQ’s of 70.5. Sahelians and West Africans have median IQ’s of 67.5.

It is true that most Africans have small heads, at 1250-1299 cc. However, southern Indians and some Amerindians have the same sized heads. These Africans have median IQ’s of 68.5, the Indians have IQ’s of 81.5 and the Amerindians have IQ’s of 87.

The smallest heads in the world (1200-1249 cc.) are actually not found in Africa. They are found in SE Asia and South India and Sri Lanka (we will also include the Seychelles and the Comoros). South Indians have a median IQ of 81 and SE Asians have median IQ’s of 90.

Does any of this make much sense? Not really.

Race realists, for the most part Northern European racists, often use a subset of these figures to demonstrate a link between IQ and head size. The subset looks something like this.

Misleading Racist Head Size/IQ Chart

Head Size
Asians       Europeans     Africans
Largest      Intermediate  Smallest
1400-1449cc. 1350-1399 cc. 1250-1299 cc.

IQ
Asians   Europeans    Africans
106      100          67

This is misleading. Let’s do it the right way.

Proper Head Size/IQ Chart

Largest heads 1450 cc.+
Variable        IQ

North Chinese*  105
Mongolians      99.5
Eskimos         91
Amerindians**   87
Siberians***    unknown

Median          95.5

*Manchuria
**Alaskans
***Aboriginals
Large heads 1400-1449 cc.
Variable       IQ

NE Asians*     105
Russians**     96
Amerindians**  87

Median         96

*incl. S. Chinese
**Uralics
**Canada, Alaska, Mexico, Fuegians
Medium-large heads 1350-1399 cc.
Variable             IQ

Nor./Cent. Europeans 98
Amerindians*         87
Oceanians**          84.5
Ugandans             73

Median               86

*Most Amerindians
**Polynesia, Micronesia, Melanesia
Medium-small heads 1300-1349 cc. 
Variable               IQ

S. Europeans           93
SE Asian Islanders*    89.5
Amerindians**          87
Middle Easterners***   83.5
Central Asians****     82
South Africans         70.5
Sahelians/W. Africans  67.5
Papuans                65

Median                 82.5 

*Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines
**Equatorial
***Arabs, North Africans and SW Asians
****Incl. Central Indians
Small heads 1250-1299 cc.
Variable      IQ

Amerindians*  87
South Indians 81.5
Africans**    68.5

Median        81.5

*Caribbean
**Most
Smallest heads 1200-1249 cc.
Variable           IQ

SE Asians          90
Far South Indians* 81

Median             85.5

*Incl. Sri Lanka, Seychelles, Comoros

This looks like a complete wreck to me. There’s just not much there, once you sit down and really do the map.

People with large heads have very high (Several European countries = 101) and very low IQ’s (Ugandans = 73). Some people with the smallest heads have very high IQ’s (Vietnamese = 99.5). There’s sort of a general trend, but the data is all over the place, like a drunk throwing darts at a dartboard.

I wish people would quit talking about this race = head size = IQ thing already.

References

Beals, K.L., Smith, C.L. & Dodd, S.M. 1984. Brain Size, Cranial Morphology, Climate, and Time Machines. Current Anthropology, 25:301-330.

Lynn, R. and Vanhanen, T. 2006. IQ and Global Inequality. Augusta, GA: Washington Summit Publishers.

Meisenberg, Gerhard. Winter 2003. IQ Population Genetics: It’s Not as Simple as You Think. Washington, DC: Mankind Quarterly, Volume XLIV, Number 2, pp.185-210.

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Head Size = Brains = Nonsense

Repost from the old site.

It is much postulated by hereditarians in the IQ debate that head size has a correlation with IQ. This seems to be true to some extent, but there are also problems with it. For one thing, nutrition increases head size, so head size is not as genetic as the hereditarians say it is. Another problem is that it is only a correlation, and not a very high one either.

What this means is that there will be cases where it does not make sense at all. For instance, Eskimos have the biggest heads, but they have IQ’s of 91, which, though Richard Lynn falsely states that they are the third major race in IQ, behind Northeast Asians and European Whites.

This is because Lynn leaves out very high scoring groups like East Indians in the West (IQ = 96) and Vietnamese (IQ = 99.5), but they don’t fit his silly Ice Age Theory of Brains Evolution, so they get left out.

Even more problematic, or much more really, enough to make the case for brain size = brains even more deadly, is the fact that human brains were much larger 10,000 years ago, when most Asians were all still Australoids (the same race as Papuans and Aborigines), when European Whites as we now know them were just beginning to evolve, and white skin was still 1,000 years away in Europe, when American Indians were changing from Australoid to Polynesian type, and the NE Asian type had not even really showed up yet, and would not for a few thousand years more.

People in India still looked like Aborigines too, and would not look like the modern-day Caucasians that they surely are for another 2,000 years. In most of the world, man was simply transforming from Australoid to either Amerindian, Indian Caucasian or Northeast Asian.

To think that these Aborigine types were smarter then than we are today and have today ended up sadly and world’s lowest IQ race except for Bushmen simply defies belief. No one was doing much better anywhere on Earth really at that time, as something called Civilization had not even developed.

If you want to think that 10,000 year old Cro-Magnon hulking hunter-gatherers and a bunch of proto-Aborigines, who were probably even lower IQ than they are today, were smarter than the guys who put a man on the moon and created the wonder known as sliced bread, you are entitled to that belief. But I will call you an idiot.

Even Lynn’s head size correlations that the hereditarians love so much only account for 12% of all of the IQ variance between races.

That brains were bigger 10,000 years ago than they are today simply means that humans have been getting less robust and more gracile. Robust means big and hulking. Aborigines, Melanesians and Papuans are some of the most robust folks around these days. Blacks are not necessarily as robust as one might think, many are surprisingly gracile.

We have been transforming from robust, hulking cave men more or less to our present status as Blackberry-doing New York metrosexuals, and in this transformation our brains have shrunk dramatically as we got sleeker and sleeker and more Upper East Side New York sleek and gym-trained.

Also, we should note that since 1600 to the present day our heads have been getting smaller and smaller. This is occurring in Africa, Europe, the Middle East and North Africa and may have been occurring elsewhere too.

If you really think that folks in the time of Shakespeare, Galileo, Hobbes, Descartes, Cromwell, Fermat, Rembrandt, Cervantes, Pascal, Leibniz, Peter the Great, Bach, Newton, Racine, Locke, Spinoza were smarter than we are, you may.

If you wish to believe that the humans who pulled off the Salem Witch Trials, Galileo’s Inquisition, and the idiotic Thirty Years War, the people who caused the Plague by sheer stupidity, the people who invented a famous thing called Pilgrims, who fought endless war in Europe against the Ottomans only halting at Vienna, were smarter than we are in our Teraflop Age, you are welcome to believe that, but I am going to call bull on that.

Still, they did halt the Turk at the gates, Newton did write is mathematical encyclopedic masterpiece, and the treaty of Westphalia was all pulled off, so this time did have its potential. Note, though, that all this good stuff occurred late Century when our brains were already shrinking. See where this argument is going? Time to get off a train that’s going off the tracks.

As you can see, the Fathead Brain Theory has serious issues, to say the least. There seems to be something there, but there is a lot less there than one might think. When people start talking in general terms of Fathead Brainiacness, it is time to wave the arms and shut the conversation down.

Hereditarians, come on, you can do better than this.

"Common Ground," by Alpha Unit

Some of the most subversive characters to exist in this country could be found in the Deep South, beginning in the late 1950s. They were regular people doing what regular people weren’t supposed to do somehow: Black people and White people working together and hanging out together and carving out an exception to the system of Jim Crow.
Florence, Alabama – located in the northwestern corner of Alabama – was the original locus of this activity.
These untoward doings were centered right above the City Drug Store in Florence. Tom Stafford, who was directing it, was the son of the drugstore pharmacist. He loved music and enjoyed hanging out with some of the local young musicians, when he wasn’t managing a movie theater in town.
Some of the aspiring musicians he knew were Dan Penn, Billy Sherrill, Rick Hall, and Spooner Oldham.
Rick Hall had been trying to get into the music business in Nashville. He began his career playing fiddle for a local Alabama country group, but he soon found success as a songwriter in Nashville; he wrote “Aching Breaking Heart,” which became a hit for George Jones.
Later he became a songwriting partner with Billy Sherrill, who had played blues as a teenager in Alabama. As a songwriting team they had some success with a song they wrote for Roy Orbison.
The two formed a band that played rock and rhythm-and-blues; they called themselves The Fairlanes. They liked this music called rhythm-and-blues and knew that White people enjoyed it as much as Black people did. It gave Rick Hall the impetus to say good-bye to Nashville. That, along with his dissatisfaction with songwriting royalties.
He and Sherrill left Nashville and started pitching songs to James Joiner, the owner of Tune Records and Publishing Company in Muscle Shoals, Alabama. They were going to stick with rhythm-and-blues.
Muscle Shoals had been a local gateway of sorts to Nashville; anyone who could make an impression there stood a better chance of impressing people elsewhere in the music industry. Rick Hall and Billy Sherrill were ready to stake it all on Muscle Shoals instead.
It was James Joiner who put them in touch with Tom Stafford.
The three men – Stafford, Hall, and Sherrill – shared enthusiasm for the music and became business partners. It was their new publishing company – the Florence Alabama Music Enterprises (FAME) – that was located over the drug store.
The partnership was short-lived, though. Rick Hall separated from Sherrill and Stafford and opened his own recording studio – keeping the old name – on Wilson Dam Road in Muscle Shoals. Not long afterward he recorded the first hit record from the area, a song called “You Better Move On” by a local Black singer named Arthur Alexander.
With money he made from that record, Hall was able to move his studios to a new building on Avalon Avenue in Muscle Shoals. The second hit he recorded was also by a Black singer, Jimmy Hughes. Other Black singers were soon coming to FAME Studios, singers like Etta James and Joe Tex. Rick Hall was getting attention from Blacks and Whites alike. As his wife Linda tells it:

They’d just come by and see what was going on because this was the early sixties and that wasn’t the thing to do, Black people working with White people. But Rick did it anyway, and enjoyed it, and has always been able to relate well with Black people. It’s always been a good marriage.

It doesn’t surprise me that Rick Hall could relate well to Black people. His beginnings hadn’t been that different from those of many Blacks in Alabama during the same time.
Born in 1932, he grew up dirt poor with a single father after his mother left the family. His father moved to Ohio to take a job in a defense plant, with the intention of making enough money to buy land in Alabama. After the war, Rick and his family returned to Alabama where his father became a sharecropper.
If you were poor and living in rural Alabama during the period leading up to the Depression, you didn’t have that many options for survival. Sharecropping and tenant farming were life, whether you were White or Black.
Sharecropping was the system whereby you worked on someone else’s land and paid them with a portion of the crop. Generally, if all you brought to this deal was your labor and you depended on the landowner for the rest, you would get a third. If you had your own draft animals, equipment, and supplies, you could get half.
Typically, though, you were impoverished and perennially in debt. You had substandard housing (to put it mildly), poor sanitation, a lousy diet, and susceptibility to the kinds of health problems created by the aforementioned conditions. You were also socially isolated.
People usually associate tenant farming with the postbellum period in the South, but it had existed in Alabama prior to the Civil War – and all of the farmers had been White. After the war, there was a serious disruption in the agricultural system, since most labor had been performed by slaves. Many of the former slaves left the farms and plantations and moved into cities. Fields went uncultivated and land values depreciated.
The people who owned the land knew something had to be done. They saw newly freed Blacks as the best source of labor, so they encouraged Blacks to return to the plantations for wages.
The deal they had in mind was for Blacks to live in the old slave quarters and work in gangs as they had during slavery. Well, it didn’t go over that well. Freed Blacks didn’t really care to return to the old slave quarters. And they weren’t too crazy about working in gangs, either. So much for all that fondness Black people had for slavery.
Another problem, perhaps the main one, was that landowners had little money to pay laborers.
A system of cooperation had to exist in order for agriculture to work. So landowners, freed Blacks, and poor Whites all coexisted in this system. The White landowners dominated both the poor Blacks and the poor Whites.
In time, White sharecroppers in Alabama outnumbered Black, except in the Alabama “Black Belt.”
Poverty is one hell of an equalizer.
These were some of the ties that bound Whites and Blacks in Alabama when guys like Rick Hall, Billy Sherrill, and Tom Stafford were growing up there. And music created a significant bond. That’s what music seems to do; it penetrates all kinds of barriers people put up between one another. When it touches you, you can’t be untouched. The music producer Sam Phillips, who grew up near Florence the son of a cotton farmer, called this area a “melting pot of musical influences”:

When I was growing up, we heard it all. In the fields we heard the Black man’s blues, in the churches we heard Black spirituals and White gospel, and on the radio we heard the Grand Ole Opry and those glorious songs from Tin Pan Alley. Out of that we created a sound that’s hard to define, hard to pigeonhole…

All of these influences were a part of the background from which the music of Muscle Shoals emerged.
What brought Muscle Shoals to national prominence was the song known as its musical anthem:”When A Man Loves a Woman,” recorded by Percy Sledge. It was a different producer, Quin Ivy, who recorded Percy Sledge, but he sent the song to Rick Hall, who loved it. Hall then contacted Jerry Wexler of Atlantic Records in New York; Atlantic recognized a hit and released it. It was the first song recorded in Muscle Shoals that became an international success.
Jerry Wexler liked the idea of recording in Muscle Shoals. As he told it:

Rigor mortis had set in up north. I had spent a decade recording with written arrangements. The arrangers were out of ideas, the musicians were out of licks and we were out of our minds. I was reinvigorated by this Southern method of recording. Once I had a taste of it, I loved it. It was like a religious retreat.

Of the session musicians in Muscle Shoals, he said:

These were country boys. They weren’t hicks by any means, but they were good old boys who loved country music but hated playing it. They had taken a turn toward a little more sophisticated type of music, which was rhythm-and-blues. They shared common experiences with the Black artists they played with – they all walked with the same mud between their toes.

Jerry Wexler brought other talent to record in Muscle Shoals. (He also brought his own engineer, Tom Dowd, a move that didn’t really appeal to Rick Hall.) An artist who had a similar background to Rick Hall’s – sharecropping, dysfunction, a certain rebelliousness – was Wilson Pickett, who had had success at Stax. He recorded some of his biggest hits at FAME Studios.
Wexler also brought Aretha Franklin. The song that established her in the music industry, “I Never Loved A Man (The Way That I Loved You),” came out of Muscle Shoals.
The truth is, by the time Rick Hall began recording Black artists at FAME Studios, the slow dismantling of segregation was already underway in the South. The Civil Rights movement coincided with some of his greatest success.
But music was common ground for Black Americans and White Americans in the South before civil rights was expected or fashionable. Some things just seem to be stronger than Race.

References

Fuqua, Christopher S. 2005. Music Fell on Alabama: The Muscle Shoals Sound That Shook the World. Montgomery, AL: NewSouth Books.

“Common Ground,” by Alpha Unit

Some of the most subversive characters to exist in this country could be found in the Deep South, beginning in the late 1950s. They were regular people doing what regular people weren’t supposed to do somehow: Black people and White people working together and hanging out together and carving out an exception to the system of Jim Crow.

Florence, Alabama – located in the northwestern corner of Alabama – was the original locus of this activity.

These untoward doings were centered right above the City Drug Store in Florence. Tom Stafford, who was directing it, was the son of the drugstore pharmacist. He loved music and enjoyed hanging out with some of the local young musicians, when he wasn’t managing a movie theater in town.

Some of the aspiring musicians he knew were Dan Penn, Billy Sherrill, Rick Hall, and Spooner Oldham.

Rick Hall had been trying to get into the music business in Nashville. He began his career playing fiddle for a local Alabama country group, but he soon found success as a songwriter in Nashville; he wrote “Aching Breaking Heart,” which became a hit for George Jones.

Later he became a songwriting partner with Billy Sherrill, who had played blues as a teenager in Alabama. As a songwriting team they had some success with a song they wrote for Roy Orbison.

The two formed a band that played rock and rhythm-and-blues; they called themselves The Fairlanes. They liked this music called rhythm-and-blues and knew that White people enjoyed it as much as Black people did. It gave Rick Hall the impetus to say good-bye to Nashville. That, along with his dissatisfaction with songwriting royalties.

He and Sherrill left Nashville and started pitching songs to James Joiner, the owner of Tune Records and Publishing Company in Muscle Shoals, Alabama. They were going to stick with rhythm-and-blues.

Muscle Shoals had been a local gateway of sorts to Nashville; anyone who could make an impression there stood a better chance of impressing people elsewhere in the music industry. Rick Hall and Billy Sherrill were ready to stake it all on Muscle Shoals instead.

It was James Joiner who put them in touch with Tom Stafford.

The three men – Stafford, Hall, and Sherrill – shared enthusiasm for the music and became business partners. It was their new publishing company – the Florence Alabama Music Enterprises (FAME) – that was located over the drug store.

The partnership was short-lived, though. Rick Hall separated from Sherrill and Stafford and opened his own recording studio – keeping the old name – on Wilson Dam Road in Muscle Shoals. Not long afterward he recorded the first hit record from the area, a song called “You Better Move On” by a local Black singer named Arthur Alexander.

With money he made from that record, Hall was able to move his studios to a new building on Avalon Avenue in Muscle Shoals. The second hit he recorded was also by a Black singer, Jimmy Hughes. Other Black singers were soon coming to FAME Studios, singers like Etta James and Joe Tex. Rick Hall was getting attention from Blacks and Whites alike. As his wife Linda tells it:

They’d just come by and see what was going on because this was the early sixties and that wasn’t the thing to do, Black people working with White people. But Rick did it anyway, and enjoyed it, and has always been able to relate well with Black people. It’s always been a good marriage.

It doesn’t surprise me that Rick Hall could relate well to Black people. His beginnings hadn’t been that different from those of many Blacks in Alabama during the same time.

Born in 1932, he grew up dirt poor with a single father after his mother left the family. His father moved to Ohio to take a job in a defense plant, with the intention of making enough money to buy land in Alabama. After the war, Rick and his family returned to Alabama where his father became a sharecropper.

If you were poor and living in rural Alabama during the period leading up to the Depression, you didn’t have that many options for survival. Sharecropping and tenant farming were life, whether you were White or Black.

Sharecropping was the system whereby you worked on someone else’s land and paid them with a portion of the crop. Generally, if all you brought to this deal was your labor and you depended on the landowner for the rest, you would get a third. If you had your own draft animals, equipment, and supplies, you could get half.

Typically, though, you were impoverished and perennially in debt. You had substandard housing (to put it mildly), poor sanitation, a lousy diet, and susceptibility to the kinds of health problems created by the aforementioned conditions. You were also socially isolated.

People usually associate tenant farming with the postbellum period in the South, but it had existed in Alabama prior to the Civil War – and all of the farmers had been White. After the war, there was a serious disruption in the agricultural system, since most labor had been performed by slaves. Many of the former slaves left the farms and plantations and moved into cities. Fields went uncultivated and land values depreciated.

The people who owned the land knew something had to be done. They saw newly freed Blacks as the best source of labor, so they encouraged Blacks to return to the plantations for wages.

The deal they had in mind was for Blacks to live in the old slave quarters and work in gangs as they had during slavery. Well, it didn’t go over that well. Freed Blacks didn’t really care to return to the old slave quarters. And they weren’t too crazy about working in gangs, either. So much for all that fondness Black people had for slavery.

Another problem, perhaps the main one, was that landowners had little money to pay laborers.

A system of cooperation had to exist in order for agriculture to work. So landowners, freed Blacks, and poor Whites all coexisted in this system. The White landowners dominated both the poor Blacks and the poor Whites.

In time, White sharecroppers in Alabama outnumbered Black, except in the Alabama “Black Belt.”

Poverty is one hell of an equalizer.

These were some of the ties that bound Whites and Blacks in Alabama when guys like Rick Hall, Billy Sherrill, and Tom Stafford were growing up there. And music created a significant bond. That’s what music seems to do; it penetrates all kinds of barriers people put up between one another. When it touches you, you can’t be untouched. The music producer Sam Phillips, who grew up near Florence the son of a cotton farmer, called this area a “melting pot of musical influences”:

When I was growing up, we heard it all. In the fields we heard the Black man’s blues, in the churches we heard Black spirituals and White gospel, and on the radio we heard the Grand Ole Opry and those glorious songs from Tin Pan Alley. Out of that we created a sound that’s hard to define, hard to pigeonhole…

All of these influences were a part of the background from which the music of Muscle Shoals emerged.

What brought Muscle Shoals to national prominence was the song known as its musical anthem:”When A Man Loves a Woman,” recorded by Percy Sledge. It was a different producer, Quin Ivy, who recorded Percy Sledge, but he sent the song to Rick Hall, who loved it. Hall then contacted Jerry Wexler of Atlantic Records in New York; Atlantic recognized a hit and released it. It was the first song recorded in Muscle Shoals that became an international success.

Jerry Wexler liked the idea of recording in Muscle Shoals. As he told it:

Rigor mortis had set in up north. I had spent a decade recording with written arrangements. The arrangers were out of ideas, the musicians were out of licks and we were out of our minds. I was reinvigorated by this Southern method of recording. Once I had a taste of it, I loved it. It was like a religious retreat.

Of the session musicians in Muscle Shoals, he said:

These were country boys. They weren’t hicks by any means, but they were good old boys who loved country music but hated playing it. They had taken a turn toward a little more sophisticated type of music, which was rhythm-and-blues. They shared common experiences with the Black artists they played with – they all walked with the same mud between their toes.

Jerry Wexler brought other talent to record in Muscle Shoals. (He also brought his own engineer, Tom Dowd, a move that didn’t really appeal to Rick Hall.) An artist who had a similar background to Rick Hall’s – sharecropping, dysfunction, a certain rebelliousness – was Wilson Pickett, who had had success at Stax. He recorded some of his biggest hits at FAME Studios.

Wexler also brought Aretha Franklin. The song that established her in the music industry, “I Never Loved A Man (The Way That I Loved You),” came out of Muscle Shoals.

The truth is, by the time Rick Hall began recording Black artists at FAME Studios, the slow dismantling of segregation was already underway in the South. The Civil Rights movement coincided with some of his greatest success.

But music was common ground for Black Americans and White Americans in the South before civil rights was expected or fashionable. Some things just seem to be stronger than Race.

References

Fuqua, Christopher S. 2005. Music Fell on Alabama: The Muscle Shoals Sound That Shook the World. Montgomery, AL: NewSouth Books.

All Or Nothing, Black and White Thinking and How Racism Works

Commenter tulio, responding to a previous comment of mine, makes some interesting observations about racist thinking that I then respond to. The references are to anti-Black racists and White racists who hate non-Whites, but I don’t mean to be a PC dickwad and single out Whites here. Racism is found all over the world in all sorts of groups, in many cases calling itself, tribalism, sectarianism, etc. It works the same way with non-Whites as it does with Whites, and non-Whites can be and frequently are as racist, or more racist, than Whites.

RL: I am kind of confused though. I would not call it self-hating because I don’t hate any part of myself. I mean, I hate what these illegals have done to the city I live in, but then I have to deal with them all day. I shop at the illegal alien supermarket because they’re nicer than the Whites. I go to Spanish language Mass because it’s cooler and the Hispanics are nicer.I talk to the illegals a lot and I get drunk with them in the bars and they put their arms around me like we are best buddies. They say they like me because I’m nice to the Mexicans. But then I really do want them to go back to Mexico. But if I were a Mexican, I would probably be just like them. I don’t hate them as individuals, but I hate what they do to our towns collectively.

Tulio then responds.

tulio: This is a fascinating passage and really shows just how psychologically and sociologically complicated race is in America. I think many people feel just like you. In fact, I’m convinced that extremists, like the Nordicist you mentioned is nothing more than a coping mechanism in the face of dealing with a world full of contradictions, idiosyncrasies, and shades of gray. It makes life psychologically easier and mentally more manageable. You don’t have to be bogged down with all these contradicting thoughts that drain mental energy.Just write off an entire race, hate them, want absolutely nothing to do with them and you don’t really have to think about it. If you ever confront an extremist on anything and you introduce logic that forces them to question their beliefs, they get abruptly upset. And you can see why. You are making their easily manageable world much more arduous. Living with cognitive dissonance isn’t for everyone.

I respond:

Yeah, it’s so much easier just to say, “Fuck em all,” than to say, “Well, some of them are good, and some of them are bad.” Well, then do you hate them or what? If some are good and some are bad, you can’t really hate them. There are not that many real racists who say, “Well, some are good, and some are bad,” because once you say that, it’s hard to hate.

The anti-Black and anti-non-White racists I run into online generally just hate everyone in the group that they dislike, and most of them simply do not befriend, socialize with or date Blacks or non-Whites. You see, once you start doing that, it screws up your whole racist system.

What a lot of the racists do say, though, is that a few, and only a few Blacks are good people. It’s like 5-10% or most. If 90-95% of Blacks suck, then you can blow off the good ones and say Oh well. But you see, they have to make the good Blacks very few in number, because once you start saying that many Blacks are good people, like 20, 30, 40% or more, then it’s going to be quite hard to hate them.

I think a lot of these folks also want to say, “Look, I don’t want to sort out the good Blacks from the bad. Fuck it. Too difficult. Either they’re all ok, or they all suck. Since they’re not all ok, I’m going to say they all suck and just get a divorce from Black people.”

We Get Fan Mail

Well, now I know what rock stars and movie stars must go through. I got one of my first star-struck fan mails the other day, of course from a young woman. Or, to be more precisely, a teenage girl. I’d been communicating with her a bit because she was trying to get to my other site, which is censored by her South Korean government. At one point, she sent a mail that went something like, “You are handsome! I love you!” On and on like that for a while.

She was 16 years old.

It could be someone playing a practical joke on me, but I doubt it. For one thing, it came from halfway around the world, and English is not her first language.

What I think is funny about this is that we recently had a big shitfit on the blog where some idiot teenage girl-children and some of their fool older woman buddies showed up here and called me names, pedophile among them. One of the things that they insisted was that no teenage girl could possibly be interested in a guy my age, which is 52. It’s true, most of them aren’t, and most guys my age ain’t got it going on anyway. But some are and some do.

And if you get to be my age and still attract teenage girls, thank someone above for that. It’s a tribute to looks, charisma, health, or something.

Sean Connery is regularly voted in the Top 10 Sexiest Men in polls of US teenage girls. I’m not sure when the last survey was done, but Connery is 78 years old! Another couple of famous actors, now around 45, also rank high.

This should not surprise anyone. Sophia Loren and Raquel Welch still look great to me at age 72-74. I imagine they look damn good to a lot of teenage boys too. And surely there are plenty of women in their 40’s and 50’s who have lots of teenage boys lusting after them. Sure, we all get old, if we are lucky enough, but if you’ve got it, you’ve got it, and some can keep dealing good hands far past age 40.

What’s funny is that if I write this girl back and play games with her, verbally that is, I guess I can go to jail. There are now new laws on the books called “sexual communication with a minor” (That one scares the shit out of me.) and “grooming a minor,” in addition to the old standby “annoying a child,” – child in this case even being a girl age 17 and 11 months. The same girl, yet a moon away from full womanhood, can also be “groomed,” I guess if you talk to her the wrong way.

“Grooming” is a phrase that creepy child molesters use for molesting little children. It involves winning the child’s trust through friendship before you move to the next stage, sex. It’s insane to conflate their sicko behavior with teen-adult sexuality, which is a whole other ball of wax.

Really, any of these laws ought to be thrown out on grounds of vagueness. I am talking to a teenage girl. At what point am I “grooming her”, “annoying her” or “communication sexually with her?” WTH man? Probably best never to say two words to the little hotties. Even if she asks directions, just walk away.

Oh well, we can still look. No wait, the Femcunt Scum and their White Knight Mangina buddies are about to make that illegal too. What’s the punishment? Teetering on a secondary ledge in Purgatory with the other pervs, eyes sewn shut with a falconer’s steel lids for decades of penance?

Makes you wonder what rock stars and movie stars have to deal with. They probably get bombed with out and out propositions, probably nude photos, you name it, all the time. Surely some of them are teenage girls. What do you do? Burn them in the fireplace? Call the cops? What if you write her back? You’re now going on a Sex Offender List for life?

Fuck this shit, man. This has gone way too far.

IQ By Region Maps

Here are a couple of maps showing average IQ’s by region in the world.

This map shows average IQ's by region of the native peoples of the region. It's good for evolutionary study, but not too useful for the current situation.

The first map is for the native peoples of the region.

This map shows IQ's by current resident majority of each region, so is more useful regarding the current majorities of the region and not so useful evolutionarily.

The second map is for the majority who currently reside there.

The maps have some inaccuracies.

For instance, Vietnam should be colored the same color as Europe, as Vietnamese IQ is 99, not whatever Richard Lynn says it is.

Botswana has a lower IQ than the rest of Africa as the native peoples are regarded as Khoisan and not Negroids. The Khoisan IQ is estimated at 54, but that seems too low. For instance, an anthropologist who spent years working with them described the Khoisan as “intelligent.” The map for Papua New Guinea masks a few things. The Papuans of the highlands are said to have low IQ’s of around 64 or so, around the same as Aborigines. Nevertheless, Jared Diamond, who worked extensively with Papuans, felt that they were “intelligent, not stupid.”

So we see once again primitive groups that are regarded as retarded on IQ tests, yet anthropologists who have spent years in the field with them say that they seem intelligent, and not retarded. IQ tests do not appear to be accurately measuring the intelligence of primitive peoples.

While the Papuans of the highlands of New Guinea have an IQ of 64, that of the Melanesians on the coast is much higher, around 84. This is curious as the Melanesians go back almost as far as Papuans, a good 30,000 years. However, they did receive an infusion of Taiwanese genes a few thousand years ago. To what extent this accounts for their higher IQ’s is not known.

The IQ of Native Americans is surprisingly uniform at around 87 or so. It would be nice if we could break it down further by native group per nation and see what we can get out of it. Some say that the Canadian Natives of the far north have higher IQ’s than the Indians of the SW US. And Mexican Indians are said to have IQ’s around 82, which may rise to 92 with the next generation if they come to the US.

African IQ appears low, but that says little to nothing about African-Americans, whose IQ’s may exceed those of Africans by up to 20 points. The higher US Black IQ certainly cannot be explained by White admixture as the racists and hard hereditarians tend to do.

The reasons why US Blacks have become so much more intelligent in the US is as yet unknown. Improved environment, selective (eugenic) breeding and other factors may be involved. Massive increases in US Black skull size along with changes from a more archaic to a more progressive phenotype in the past 100 years were said to be only partly due to nutrition.

Part of the changes were also thought to be genetic. This indicates that US Blacks have been genetically evolving towards a more progressive phenotype and larger heads in the past 100 years. Perhaps US Blacks with higher intelligence and more progressive phenotype have been preferentially selected since 1900. Theories about dysgenic trends in the US Black community are unwarranted and unsupported by the science.

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Latest on the Rightwing Corporate Democrats (Obamabots)

From The Pen, the only decent Democrats left in the party, an analysis of the failed health care bill. Bottom line is that this bill is going to so suck, it’s going to be so fucked that the majority of Americans are going to hate it. It’s going to force people to buy the heath insurance that no one wants. While 59% of the people support a public option, that’s off the table somehow.

The Republicans are opposing everything because they don’t want any changes at all to the current horrid system. All of you commenters who think corporations are so cool, note that the Republicans are the party of the corporations. So the corporations want no change whatsoever in the current US Health Care Clusterfuck.

The Republicans are opposing the mandate to buy insurance, but secretly they think it’s groovy. In fact, the pharmaceutical and medical corporations have all signed on to that. And why not? It will be the biggest transfer of private money to corporations in the history of the US.

Think health insurance companies should be exempted from anti-trust law? Why on God’s Earth should that be? Yet it’s written into law. And the first thing we ought to do is get rid of that lunatic exemption.

Yes, Scott Brown, a hard right Republican, won Ted Kennedy’s seat in Massachusetts. Is that because the bluest of blue states has gone the way of Idaho? Dubious. Fact is, the Left and the liberals simply stayed home. They would have had to vote for an Obamabot for the Dem, barf bags were in short supply at the polls, and who wants to get sick in public? So really this was just Obama’s base delivering a gigantic Fuck You to Barack.

One thing I admire about Republicans is their relentlessness. The project Republicans want has 21% support? Damn the torpedoes, full speed!

The project the Republicans want has 2-5% (weakening clean air and water laws)? Hell with the public, we’re doing it anyway! And if the opposition doesn’t like it, we will ram it down their throats!

It helps to have all the MSM media on your side, and that’s the case when you’re a Republican. Still, when is 59% not enough support to push for something? The Democrats suffer from Permanent Pussy Whipped Syndrome. They watch polls like hawks and act like girls every time the polls drift down below 70% or so. When that happens, it’s time to act like Republicans!

This doesn’t work, as it just makes their base hate them, and to the Republicans, the Dems are all still socialists anyway, no matter how corporate and rightwing they get. It’s a loser! Get it? It’s a loser for Democrats to act like Republicans. Got it? Didn’t think so. Dumbfucks.

From The Pen:

To understand the current political dynamic, first you must understand that the Democrats are PLANNING on losing the next couple election cycles. UNTIL you understand that, the events to unfold in the next couple years (unless you act to derail them) will make no sense to you.

You don’t have to believe us. Just listen to the way the Democrats themselves are talking. Nancy Pelosi concedes that they will likely suffer substantial losses in the House come November, though she still will not admit that they will lose their majority in the next round. Barack Obama says doesn’t “know” how his ever more determined push of the universally despised Senate health care scam will play politically. He doesn’t know? Was the loss of the eternally Democratic senate seat in Massachusetts not enough of a wake up call?

Their original plan, which we told you about no later than last
September (and we can point you to our published article at the time to prove it), was to lull the liberal/progressive base into thinking a “public option” was some kind of mumbling substitute for a single payer reform system (that would have represented REAL change), with the INTENTION of throwing even that option over the side before final passage. We saw it all coming, and we tried to warn you how important it was to keep speaking out to demand better.

For the corporate special interests controlling the whole legislative process (but only in the absence of your voices of course) this was a heads they win, tails the people lose, proposition. By getting the Democrats to squander their mandate and political capital for actual change, by getting them to meekly abandon their professed principles in favor of a bill that would benefit as a bottom line the insurance
corporations only, the people en masse would justifiably conclude that the Democrats had completely betrayed them.

And the Republicans, who by the tactic of enfeeblement of government in fact just empower the same ultimate corporate agenda, even as disliked as they are themselves, would be swept back into office in the next election. Net result … reform and change discredited, hopes dashed, defeatism rules, the corporations win again, one grand circular tag team.

That was the MASTER plan. But then it hit a bump in the road in
Massachusetts. For you see, Scott Brown was not SUPPOSED to win. What he was supposed to do was to stir the pot of public anger as a prelude to November, to build a record of opposition, to fire a shot across the public bow of the Democrats, but he was not supposed to actually hit anything. It was strategically premature.

Because having lost their shaky super majority, depending even as it was on regressive bad cops like Nelson and Lieberman, the Democrats could then no longer just waltz the fatally compromised health care bill through with a unilateral conference committee.

What to do? What were the corporate fascists to do? Now keep in mind that the EXCUSE the Democrats had been giving all along to their own base, as to why not only single payer, but in the end even a feeble public option, had to be taken off the table, was that they could not muster a full 60 votes for that in the Senate, that they could only manage something like 53-56.

But now suddenly, the only way to force this destined to be hated bill through was have the Democrats in the House bend over for the worst case Senate bill as it was, and clench their noses long enough to pull some kind of corrective reconciliation shenanigans that would only require 51 votes. Why, the people would ask themselves, can’t we at least have a public option, since we were trying to get Congress to use reconciliation to make THAT happen all along?

And the inescapable answer is … that was not the plan. Suddenly people like Senator Rockefeller, who had PRETENDED to be for a public option before, dramatically reversed their position.

Suddenly people like Senator Harkin, who declared himself to be at heart a “single payer guy” live on TV with Ed Shultz just the other day, would in the next breath not even ADMIT that he would support a public option IF a vote for it came up. Suddenly, people who were all for the public option when their vote did NOT count became equivocal, or against it, when they COULD possibly cast the deciding vote.

No, the plan was for the Democrats to pass a bill that would be so despised that they would be swept out of power again, that would cost them even their simple majorities. That was the PLAN. That was the plan of the corporations all along. There has never been any other plan. And that REMAINS the corporate plan with what can only be described as an obstinate and renewed determination.

Now, it would be one thing if Barack Obama and the Democratic party “leadership” were going to the wall for what the PEOPLE want. But they are not. They are bracing to go to the wall for what the corporations want. As perverse as George Bush was, at least he always had his most dedicated and delusional core base on his side when he thumbed his nose at the rest of us. The exact opposite is the case here. Barack Obama is standing in diametric opposition to his own base, and willfully so, displaying all the leadership qualities of a bull in a bull fight.

We can read from the last 25 messages function of our own action pages, just as you can. It breaks our heart to read people talking about how they worked so hard for Obama and now feel so betrayed. It breaks our heart to read independents write that they were willing to give the Democrats a chance, but will never vote for a Democrat again. It breaks our heart to read people declaring that they will never even turn out to vote again, for anyone. Because this is all nothing but surrender talk. But we fight on undeterred, even with our broken heart.

Put The Public Option Up For A Vote:

And we tell you now, that if this health care bill is rammed through without at least a semblance of a public option in it, the one we were promised at a MINIMUM, there will be massive hemorrhaging at the polls come November.

The American people are out there right now asking themselves, “Was Massachusetts not enough … how big a 2×4 will we have to hit these mules in the head with before they finally get it?” The Republicans will not need to talk about any other issue to campaign on. They will get a total pass on an secret agenda that is, if anything, in every respect more hostile to the real public policy interests of the people whose anger they will arouse.

And if the Democrats DON’T lose their majorities in a single election, guess what? Same rallying war cry for 2012, “Got to vote out more Democrats so we can repeal the hated bill, including getting a getting a president who will sign the repeal bill.”

Try to tell us you don’t hear it happening already. Even if the Democrats don’t lose their majorities in 2010, they will be so reduced that they will not be able to accomplish anything in the next two years, not that they have been able to accomplish anything with the majorities they had, meaning nothing to run on in 2012 either.

Of course the latest promise never meant to be honored is that the Democrats will fight for a public option LATER. But if they can’t muster the votes to do it now, with the majorities they have now, only the most terminally gullible would believe they could do it with fewer votes in the future, even if they actually wanted to, which they do NOT!

And if there is a historic landslide in November and both houses of Congress go Republican, guess what the first bill from the new Congress will be … repeal the health care bill. And guess what happens if Obama tries to veto it, or the Democrats try to filibuster (after passing it on 51 votes in the first place)?

In short, Obama becomes an instant lame duck, the people will be hell bent on getting rid of him too, and the entire Democratic party is just a dead man walking. Either way, pushing this bill now avails nothing, since it WILL be repealed before it ever goes into meaningful effect.

And when the repeal bill does become law there will be people
celebrating and dancing in the streets, not even realizing that they are just dancing on their own graves. No pack of lemmings have ever hurtled so foolishly to their own demise as this Democratic Congress. No pod of whales have ever beached themselves so senselessly. We are talking about the biggest act of deliberate mass suicide in the history of the animal kingdom.

UNLESS, and we would concede that this is a big unless, we can
somehow get enough people to speak out to DEMAND a vote on a public option, and not just the weak public option passed by the House, but instead the proposed Medicare expansion to 55 from December quashed putatively by Lieberman alone, and additionally for an option for ANYONE to buy in to Medicare, for the PURPOSE of calling the Democrats out, to at least demand something better.

Democratic members of Congress are under corporate orders (including direct from the White House and being cajoled) to take a dive. The only thing that can countermand that order are your voices speaking out.

Skin Color and the Tropics

Here are a couple of excellent maps showing, first, the tropics, and second, skin color around the world.

It’s curious to me that dark skin is devalued. I grew up on the beach in Southern California. In the summer I lived at the beach and surfed. While I wasn’t surfing, I was living in a cloud of marijuana smoke. In the winter, I lived at the ski slopes, once again in a marijuana fog. All year, I chased women, listened to hard rock music and sold pot. Life has never been better.

I had bleached long hair and a year-round tan. This was the idea. Surfer and skier society was White society, but it was not racist. There simply were few if any non-Whites in the scene. But those non-Whites that were in scene were completely accepted as normal, see Bobby Nishi, once of the greatest surfers of all time. I once threw a party in my house and at one point I caught Bobby in my brother’s bedroom screwing some chick. No one cared, and everyone thought it was funny. Women swarmed to Bobby like bees to blossoms.

Skin color map for the world. It gets awful dusky in Africa and parts of Latin America, but that's where the UV is, so come on. Evolution is adaptive.

Thing was, we were always trying to be brown. How brown? I’m not sure if it ever came up. Obviously, White people can only get so brown, but our mestizo and NE Asian friends did get a lot browner with the sun, but no one seemed to care. None of us Whites got as dark as Black people, but if we could have, it might even have been cool, who knows? Whether we were as brown as mestizos is hard to say. We were certainly as brown as a lot of the lighter mestizos.

The fascinating thing was that growing up on the beach, we thought that pale, White skinned White girls were ugly! Everyone wanted a bitchin’ tan. The pale skinned White thing came back with the punk rock thing in the late 70’s and early 80’s, but at the time, it was bad news.

UV radiation chart for the Earth. Pretty much lines up with the skin color chart, and why not? Evolution ain't stupid.

This makes me wonder about this White nationalist thing that everywhere on Earth, humans and males in particular have a preference for lighter skin, which is of course superior, right? Except that my So Cal White culture was an exception to all of that. Therefore, what? My culture was a genetic aberration? Come on. I’ll side with the Cultural Left assholes here and say that this whole light skin preference thing is socially constructed. It’s not some inborn bias or instinct.

In Africa, males have no preference for lighter skin in females, and female Africans do vary quite a bit in skin color. In Tasmania, Tasmanians actually preferred darker skin in women! I suppose they had a special genetic mutation, huh?

There does seem to be evidence that men prefer females to be lighter through all cultures, but there women have no preference at all for men. Tall, dark and handsome isn’t exactly a reference to the melanin-deficient White dude. As commenter tulio notes, this is probably a preference for youth, since our skin is lighter as babies and children and grows darker as we age, except in guys like me, where my dark brown hair is paradoxically turning light grey as I age. But go figure!

Low Self-Esteem and Its Ramifications

In the comments to A Few Words On Stereotype Threat, tulio asks in response to Ken Hoop who said he was worried more about low self-esteem among Whites than among minorities:

How does low white self-esteem manifest itself in society? I’m curious.

Well, what you see a lot of in White society are these kind of shy, nice guy types, often overweight, or dorky, nerdy guys. A lot of times you get the feeling that they do not have a lot of confidence. It’s clear that they don’t have a real high opinion of themselves. With middle aged men, especially lower income, overweight, losing their looks, a lot of the time, they look downcast like they are not enjoying things. You don’t get the impression that this guy thinks he is King of the Hill anymore, if he ever did.

Basically it’s associated with neuroticism, niceness, caution, lack of risk taking behavior, stuff like that. Probably lower rates of drug and alcohol abuse too. Low self-esteem is not great, but it’s not the end of the world. Low self-esteem people tend to be nice. As self-esteem rises, people are not so nice anymore. Criminals have very high self-esteem. In White women, low self-esteem is associated with overweight or promiscuous sexual behavior, sluttiness, etc.

Not sure why that is. Prostitutes and porn stars, etc. have notoriously low self-esteem. A lot of these White women cutting themselves and whatnot, or with Borderline Personality Disorder, don’t have good self-esteem at all. Depression is obviously associated with low self esteem, and so is anxiety to some extent. About drug and alcohol abuse, I am not so sure.

High self-esteem is a way worse problem than low self-esteem.

One can argue that people only have so much love to give. The love can go to the self, to others, or to both. As self-esteem rises, a lot of love goes to the self and in many cases, there is less left for others. Further, there is a tendency to see oneself as superior. As self-esteem decreases, self-love is pretty low, but humans all have a great love potential. The love has to go somewhere. As it’s not going to the self too much, it will tend to go outwards. Furthermore, the low self-esteem person doesn’t feel very superior to others.

Alternatively, low self-esteem people send their anger inwards at the self, whereas with high self-esteem, there’s a tendency to project it out at others as a defense. I suppose one can argue once again that the psyche has a reservoir of anger or rage and it has to go somewhere, either inward at the ego or outwards at objects in the world.

That’s why people with low self-esteem are often very nice, and cocky bastards are often complete pricks.

Obviously, it’s ideal to love yourself and others well, but life’s not always so ideal.

A Few Words on Stereotype Threat

A very smart Black man whom I will not name has been emailing me lately about Black-White IQ differences. It’s not exactly my favorite subject, as it’s so damn depressing (since I’m pro-Black), but nevertheless, I have been engaging him. It’s sad that the Nurture Crowd are falling back on Stereotype Threat (ST). At first it sounds like a brilliant argument, since it has apparently been proven in a number of strictly experimental situations.

But there is a problem with this argument, a deadly one that kills it right in its tracks. If you study ST threat long enough, you finally figure out the depressing truth that ST cannot possibly explain B-W differences in IQ or other tests or achievement results. Because all ST does is take the typical B-W differential in this lineup (let’s call it X) and add to it! It creates a score like X-10%. That is, under ST, Blacks do even worse against Whites than they would normally be expected to. That’s going to depress their scores, sure, but it can’t possibly be the reason for differential.

Thus, rather than showing that eliminating threat eliminates the large score gap on standardized tests, the research actually shows something very different.

Specifically, absent stereotype threat, the African American-White difference is just what one would expect based on the African American-White difference in SAT scores, whereas in the presence of stereotype threat, the difference is larger than would be expected based on the difference in SAT scores. (Sackett 2004.)

I’d much rather pin my hopes on a continuing Flynn Effect rather than silly stuff like ST. Black IQ’s have already been rising at 3 pts./decade for 70 years or so, and Black skulls have gotten much larger in the meantime. We can measure the scores and the skulls, and it’s all real and something to cheer about. Assuming this effect continues, and especially if it continues for Blacks but slows or stops for Whites, things could get interesting. Even if Blacks can’t make up the difference, 22 extra IQ points and much bigger skulls (and apparently many more brain cells) in the last 110 years is nothing to shake a stick at.

References

Sackett PR, Hardison CM, Cullen MJ. January 2004. On Interpreting Stereotype Threat as Accounting for African American-White Differences on Cognitive Tests. Am Psychol 59 (1): 7–13.

JewAmongYou – New Race Realist Blog

Jewamongyou.

I know this fellow from the American Renaissance comments section. I rarely comment there anymore because I have tons of enemies on that site who think I am a race traitor – anti-White – anti-racist. They refuse to publish a lot of my comments anyway. Also, increasingly, I find that site distasteful. I realize that’s the moderate end of White nationalism, but WN is not a moderate thing.

The site frankly makes me disgusted, angry and queasy a good part of the time, though there is some good stuff on there. It’s the commenters that really bug me. So many of them seem to hate all non-Whites, and it makes me sick to be around such folks.

Jewamongyou was always one of my favorite posters. He’s a Jewish race realist (great handle by the way), and he was always sober, reasoned, intelligent and often eloquent. There was a kindness and decency about him that was missing from most of the posters. So I was happy to see, via the great Kvetcher, that he has his own site now. Usually, jewamongyou is merely a good writer, but at times, he is simply sublime.

He’s a libertarian, as so many such folks are, and he has a post attempting to explain why race realism and libertarianism go hand and hand. I think he avoids the nasty bits, such as that in Libertarian World, the brainy haves don’t have to help the dummy have-nots.

The have-nots? I dunno. I guess they just get to die in the gutter or something. One of the hazards of Libertarian World is that those wonderful libertarians have to keep stepping over the crumbling bodies of the have-nots whenever they step off the curve. But hey! Small price to pay for no taxes, huh?

He also devotes a lot of his site to Jewry, as apparently he is a religious Jew. He has an interesting take on the Jewish Question, including harsh criticism and maybe opposition to Zionism, avoidance of the pogrom and prosecution narrative of Jewish history and a lack of the typical neurotic Jewish obsession with anti-Semites.

He has a piece on anti-Semites in the race realist movement, and of course it’s swarming with them. His take on Nazis in the movement is sensible and well-reasoned, while avoiding the usual Jewish hysteria. Of course he dislikes anti-Semites, but he regards them as more annoying than anything else (like a wasp you need to shoo out of your house), which in 2010 America, is probably the proper non-neurotic Jewish response.

I’m not sure if Black people will find much to like here, but his site is free from much of the anti-Black animus you typically find on these sites. He has known Blacks whom he respected all through his life.

Though a very long post on why he has told his Jewish daughter he doesn’t want her to date Black guys will leave most Blacks cold.

In his partial defense, it’s an odds argument, not an essentialist one, and that at least makes mathematical sense. Also, I believe that possibly as many as 35-40%, or possibly more, or possibly even a majority, of White parents don’t want their daughters dating Blacks.

Heck, fully 25% of US Whites oppose “miscegenation.” I’m not sure what the respondents meant by that, but in most cases that probably means they oppose Whites marrying Blacks. I doubt if a White guy hooking up with Mei Lien would upset them very much. This sort of “I don’t want my daughter dating Blacks” stuff has deep roots in US society, and it’s going to take a while to winnow it down.

For another POV along the same lines, a Black African poster points out that most African Blacks can’t stand African Americans, they don’t do want their children marrying them!

All in all, Jewamongyou is not bad for a race realist blog.

New Liberal Race Realist Blog

Here.

I know who this guy is, but I won’t name any names. I have not read much of what he’s written here other than the opening statement, but I’m in agreement with this project. He also has some liberal race realists in the comments section. I had no idea that there were so many of us. Rather than pushing some sort of “liberal racism” – the typical PC rejoinder to liberal race realism – he is simply trying to find a way to fashion a liberal or progressive project out of the rather discouraging (to us) facts about race, as they come to light.

Clearly, the whole race realist/human biodiversity (HBD) project is now in the hands of the Right, and it does have some major ideological challenges to the Left and liberalism. Nevertheless, I think we are up to the task. There’s no reason to give this whole issue to the Right while continuing to protest with arguments that increasingly seem like disgusting but well-meaning lies.

Furthermore, there are a lot of Whites and males, and especially White males, who are sick and tired of the whole “White People/Men are Evil” line pushed by the PC crowd.

If you go to a California university now, you have to take a Diversity Curriculum that consists of classes that might as well be called White People and Men are Evil. I’ve talked to some White guys who just came out of that program, and they are hopping mad. The general tendency is for folks like that to move to the Right politically, since the Left and the Democratic Party is seen as hostile to Whites and men.

Well, the Left is hostile to Whites and men!

But I’m all about economics, so I’m not about to support rightwing economics (the enemy) just because the Left is bonkers on race, gender, sexual orientation and other crap.

Liberal Race Realism, along with a Liberal analogue to Masculinist Movement, now completely in the hands of the Right, stands a chance of rescuing some of these White and male souls before they take off into rightwing populist la-la land.

It’s time for some real navel-gazing on the Left. It should be clear by now that 40 years of Identity Politics on the Left, now embodied as Queer Theory, Gender Feminism, Critical Race Theory and other forms of jazzed up bullshit soft science, hasn’t done the slightest damn thing for poor people, and especially for poor minorities, in particular for poor Blacks.

Worse, it empowered a horrible rightwing backlash and siphoned a lot of Whites and males off to the neverworlds of rightwing populism. And if we on the Left are working for anyone, it’s for the working classes, the poor, the lower income people, and in particular the minorities among them, who are hurting most of all.

Liberal Biorealism site goes beyond this one by accepting many race realist presuppositions as facts on the ground. It’s notable that they assume that genetics explains most of the B-W IQ difference.

I’m not willing to do that here, at least not yet. As long as that line can still be credibly disputed, and there is no hard consensus on it, I will hold to this optimistic position. My point instead is to say that the tests are valid, and there are intelligence differences among races and ethnic groups, whatever the Hell is causing them. At this sad point, even that is pouring gasoline on the fire of public discourse.

I realize that there is not much in race realism for Blacks, but Blacks should maybe come up with a pro-Black project that takes race realism into account, since this view is only going to grow in the future. For Blacks to throw the whole thing over to hard racists in the Libertarian and Conservative movements, who have nothing but ill will for Blacks, is a mistake.

For instance, it’s typical for rightwing race realists to argue that HBD means that we need to cut off all or most social spending to minorities, since they are genetically inferior, and you’re just throwing good money after bad. Almost all conservative race realists also want to get rid of all anti-discrimination laws. There’s nothing in that but harm for Blacks period, and not just poor Blacks. By not formulating some sort of a pro-Black response to race realism, Blacks risk throwing the ball over to their worst enemies.