Index Home About Blog
From: Steve Harris <>
Subject: Re: selling sickness to the well
Date: 11 Aug 2005 12:52:19 -0700
Message-ID: <> wrote:
> The media are funded by their advertisers, so they present material in
> a way that attracts the audience the advertisers want to reach.  You
> don't have to assume a huge conspiracy to soften up the populace for an
> authoritarian takeover.  It's just the old Invisible Hand, which AFAIK,
> libertarians are totally in favour of.
> For most general publications, "hysterical reporting" attracts readers,
> and the more readers the more advertising revenue.  People who want
> more thoughtful reporting, or reporting more to their taste, will seek
> out publications that provide it, and advertisers who wish to target
> that audience will purchase advertising in the media that audience
> reads or listens to.
> (And please don't assume that I think the media are controlled by a
> different huge conspiracy of evil capitalist advertisers.  Each
> advertiser acts to try to increase its market share, selecting media
> based on how likely ads there are to do so, and composing their ads to
> appeal to the target audience of that publication.)


All true and I don't disagree with any of it. All the same, it seems to
me there's something else going on. A kind of anxiety vacuum that was
created by the end of the cold war, which the media of all kinds trying
to fill up even when there waasn't anything really to worry greatly

There's a wonderful little bit on this in Michael Crichton's last book,
State of Fear, where some old professor tracks the number of times
ultimate scare words like "disaster" are used in headlines in
newspapers, and finds that the rate has climbed sharply since about
1990. Crichton actually did this, if I am not mistaken. His suggestion,
which is unprovable, is that it's connnected with the end of the cold
war. People, released from the threat of global anihilation, have been
searching around for a new permanent war to replace it.

I've FELT this. Perhaps you haven't.  Authoritarians alway need a
permanent state of "war" ala 1984, and most of the "wars" they come up
with (Nixon's war on cancer, LBJ's war on poverty) don't serve as a
very good excuse for federal extension of power. When the Vietnam war
was winding down, you could almost feel the Nixonites hunting around
for something to replace it. Our modern War on Drugs (aka War on the
Underclass) dates from there. Before that, the feds hardly dared do
anything about illegal drugs but tax them like machine-guns, and jail
you if you hadn't paid the tax. If you had the tax stamp (which in
practise was hard to get), you could in theory own marihuana legally.
With Nixon, all that went away. They just outlawed all this stuff
outright and passed no-knock laws so they could break in and find it
before you flushed it.

In the 90's after the first gulf war, with no Soviet badguys to fight,
we couldn't even figure out what to do with NATO (except let the
Russians in, say WHAT??). We had to make do with this War on Drugs, and
Clinton put more minorities in jail, indeed more PEOPLE in jail, than
any administration ever before. That was almost the defining feature of
New Democrats--- they were like old democrats but LOVED prisons. We had
a war on people with no handcapped parking lot spaces, but that wasn't
all that satisfying. And in the 90's we were sort of going around the
globe looking for some war to start or somebody to annoy. Why not put
troops in Bosnia or Saudia Arabia or whereever we pleased? Who was
going to stop us? Maybe you, buddy? Wanna make something of it? Huh?

In the first 8 months of the Bush administration, you could sense the
man had no footing. Clearly, the drug war was going to be kept up, but
what else? How are you going to throw your weight around with a War on
Bad On Elementary School Grades? (You can't send the marines in for
that, because they're the folks who still print in block letters.). And
a War on Global Warming isn't going to go over too well on your
Republican ohhhhhl-pumping supporters.

And then------ like a providental gift from Allah (blessed be His
Name), we got 9/11!  Salvation!  Bush was saved from being the Reading
is Fundamental President, which was good because he never seems to have
done very much of it himself, and he wasn't too convincing at it. And
so NOW we are in a permanent state of WAR, whoopee. It's a free ticket
for the feds to do whatever they want, for as long as they want. And as
much as the Democrats complain, when the next president is ellected
(who likely will be a Democrat) you think he (or she) won't USE the war
on terror as the same free ticket Bush has?  Of course they will.

In any case, I suppose my point is that I know very well newpapers have
always printed what sold, and yellow journalism isn't new. But this
hysteria is something new to me. My parents tell me people weren't this
scared in WW II. The years of the 90's between the first gulf war and
9/11 were quite remarkable in being the first time in my personal
memory (which goes back to the JFK assassination), that we didn't
really HAVE any big scary enemies (or witches). And the horrid thing
that I think I saw, was us trying very hard to *create* some. As though
we couldn't live without them. And succeeding. And the media, the
fourth estate indeed, not only reflected that struggle to find
witches-- they actually fueled it like gasoline on a fire. They may
even have been responsible for it.


Subject: Re: AZT and Wacko American MDs - was Re: MDs forcing kids to take 
Date: 11 Aug 2005 15:45:33 -0700
Message-ID: <>

Eric Bohlman wrote:
> Steve Harris <> wrote in
> > This is where liberalism really bugs me. Liberals are the poison
> > paranoia people. Somebody finds some kind of politically correct
> > "poison" like thimerosal, and regardless of the evidence for, or
> > against, liberals will try to hamstring a program that will save 3/4
> > million kids a year, to keep it from being used. Unintended
> > consequences.  They don't care. If the solution doesn't fit their
> > utopian vision, they'd rather *prevent* a reasonable version of it
> > used at all.
> Don't tar all liberals with the same brush.  The subset you're correctly
> railing against are largely motivated by Romantic ideology and would more
> correctly be described as "pseudo-liberals" just as many authoritarians
> have been described as "pseudo-conservatives."


Thanks for the thoughtful message.

>Don't tar all liberals with the same brush.  The subset you're correctly
>railing against are largely motivated by Romantic ideology and would more
>correctly be described as "pseudo-liberals" just as many authoritarians
>have been described as "pseudo-conservatives.


I'm of course using the words conservative and liberal as we use them
in the US, which is not the same way they are used in the UK or Canada
(say). I don't think the US conservative even has a counterpart in
politics in most places (maybe the Israeli Likud). The US liberal in
most places would be a called conservative, and the liberal of Canada
and the UK, would be closer to a US socialist. The John Stuart Mills
classical liberal (my own affiliation) is nowadays called a
libertarian, and isn't understood by any major party, except in bits.

"Conservative" classically means somebody who harkens back to the past,
but if we're stuck in post-modernism, it's rather difficult to tell
what conservatives are supposed to believe in. You can call properly
them reactionaries, since they are usually to be found opposing the
"progressive" ideas of the progressives, where the progressive idea is
usually to make the central government responsible for it (whatever it
is), at some cost in your taxes. Note the "conservative" politicians
can have "progressive" ideas, with the classic one here in the US being
Bush's idea to have the Feds more closely control K-12 education (now
there's a brilliant idea-- Feds on your schoolboard).  Mostly in the
US, we just use the term "conservative" for religious Christians who
don't trust the government, but (as with that Bush K12 initiative, not
to mention Homeland Security) they can be confusing when they get into
office. Our "conservatives" often don't include the Roman Catholics,
who may be religious and Christian, but who have as much faith in
government as Teddy Kennedy or author Tom Clancey does. Which is a lot.
Teddy is not a conservative. As for Tom Clancey, who knows? He does
have the Catholic love of, and faith in, bureaucracy, including
military bureaucracy, so is hard to place.  Teddy has the same, but
hates the military, so is easy to place.

> One similarity is that they tend to view third-world people in "noble
> savage" terms, worrying greatly that their "traditional ways of life"
> might come to an end.  They never seem to ask the objects of their
> concern whether or not they *want* to continue living the same way they
> did millennia ago (I'm reminded of a quote from a woman in Africa who
> said she wished she could afford (gasp!) *herbicides* to spray on her
> crops.  When asked why, she said she wanted her children to go to school
> and learn to read and write instead of spending their days stooping in
> the fields picking weeds).  They consist largely of upper-middle-class
> women, but they idealize societies in which women spend most of their
> time barefoot, pregnant, and completely at the mercy of men.  They take
> at face value the claims of the most reactionary and authoritarian
> elements of any "oppressed" society, oblivious to the fact that those
> "leaders" are simply third-world equivalents of Jerry Falwell and Pat
> Robertson ( discusses this in great detail).


Yes, yes. But I think you're wrong to view this as "pseudo-liberalism."
It's real gold-standard liberalism, a part of the maternalistic
liberalism of Hilary "It takes a village to raise a child" Clinton and
a lot of others.  And sure, they're reactionaries when it comes to
technology--- that doesn't mean they're not "progressives" when it
comes to everything else. But that doesn't make them pseudo-liberals.
Ralph Nader is not a pseudo-liberal. Nader didn't split the Republican
party in the 2000 election, he split the Democratic party. He split the
liberals and the Left. The Right paid no attention to him at all,
except to thank Jesus for him.

> This branch of the Left really consists of reactionaries in
> progressives' clothing.

Nah, it consists of progressives who happen to be reactionary when it
narrowly comes to matters of technology, because they don't understand
it. And, often, because being female they are missing any love of
technology for its own sake (which I think is written into the genes of
most men). But that's it. I don't think they distrust technology
because they're romantics. As often as not, they're romantics for
entirely different reasons (like the Nazis) and *would* be lovers of
technology  if they had the gonads for it (like the Nazis).

> Romanticism has historically rather quickly led
> to authoritarianism, even fascism.  It contains a streak of anti-urbanism
> that often has a sub-streak of anti-semitism.

Oh, that's WAY overgeneralized. A romantic moment was part of an
authoritarian process in France, Germany and Italy, but not in England
or America. Peoples have their own personalities and make each
influence their own. Every country has its romantic movements in the
arts or politics. Sometimes it leads to violence and authoritarianism,
and sometimes not.  Certainly fascism was built on a peculiar
romanticism in Italy and (if you insist on calling Nazis fascists) in
Germany also. But the emotionalism and idealism of romanticism is
merely a way of controlling the masses and getting the votes,
especially when times are hard and the past is easy to look to.
Romanticism is also a way of resurrecting any country or people from
the past. Romantic movements gave us modern Poland, and some of those
same Romantic Poles gave us modern Israel.

As for antisemitism, I would argue that it was most often a feature of
German romanticism merely because the Germans themselves were so often
antisemitic. So if the German romantics happened not to like Jews, like
Wagner and Wagner's major fan Hitler, you find it in their work. But
you don't find it in Nietzsche, and I don't think it's particularly
somehow necessary or promoted by Romanticism. Yes, you'd think it would
be natural in pastoral  movements to vilify urbanites like Jews. Thus
I've heard Rousseau accused of antisemitism, and it's a good myth, but
as I read him there's no truth in it.

> Ultimately, it stems from
> the conviction that humans are inherently evil.  How it came to be seen
> as part of the Left is unclear, though it appears that a lot of it
> entered through the 1960s counterculture; old-school leftists and their
> ideological descendants don't seem to be much affected by such nonsense.
> I've become convinced that when neo-Romantics talk about "health,"
> they're actually talking about achieving a sense of personal *purity*.  I
> think much of the "poison paranoia" is actually a feeling of being
> ritually unclean


Ritual unclean if the paranoics are Jewish, but just "unclean" if they
aren't. Yes, indeed, it's handwashing-type personal purity. We hear of
people who worry if the inside of their colons aren't clean. Clearly
nuts. But how did this get to be part of the Left?  Because there was
no other place to put these folks. These people usually think of
themselves as progressives, and what else do you call them?  Are you
going to argue with them? Asking people about nuclear power or
pesticides is nearly a perfect litmus test for which side of the
political spectrum they're going to be on. The same with liability law.
When somebody sues his way into being a governor like Sid McMath, or a
Senator like John Edwards, he's never a Republican. Injury lawyers are
not high on the list of people Republicans admire.

It isn't the evangelicals that form the core of the right who seem to
be too worried about being detoxified and having poisons in their
environments. They are washed in the Blood of the Lamb, don't you know,
so they don't need the EPA. I can only conclude that they've been
inoculated against such fears by their particular brand of
protestantism. Neither Catholics nor Jews, and certainly not
secularists, trust providence to protect them from this stuff. And
that's the left-right divide in the US:  Do you really believe in an
imminent god, who's good against toxins?  Or do you actually have to
(tikkun; Kashrit) "do-it-yourself"?


Subject: Re: AZT and Wacko American MDs - was Re: MDs forcing kids to take 
Date: 11 Aug 2005 15:55:55 -0700
Message-ID: <>

Jeff wrote:
> Steve Harris <> wrote in message
> (...)
> > This is where liberalism really bugs me. Liberals are the poison
> > paranoia people. Somebody finds some kind of politically correct
> > "poison" like thimerosal, and regardless of the evidence for, or
> > against, liberals will try to hamstring a program that will save 3/4
> > million kids a year, to keep it from being used. Unintended
> > consequences.  They don't care. If the solution doesn't fit their
> > utopian vision, they'd rather *prevent* a reasonable version of it used
> > at all.
> >
> > Disgusting!
> And then you have conservatives who sent people to war in Iraq because of
> weapons of mass destruction that don't exist. I think the estimate of the
> number of  people who have died has to be around 15,000 directly and around
> 200,000 directly and indirectly.


Yeah, but don't blame me for them. I'm a libertarian, and never liked
that war.

> This is where labels really bug me. Not all conservatives are in favor of
> the war. And not all liberals are against thimerasol. I am quite liberal and
> in favor of vaccination. In fact, because of vaccination, I have yet to see
> a case of Hib menigitis. And there are thousands of kids who are in high
> school would have otherwise been in the ground. I am also in favor of using
> GM foods and dislike organic foods.
> I guess logic can overcome my liberalism.
> Jeff


You must be a lonely, lonely man, then.  :)

Vaccination does cut across party lines, because parental concern does.
However, vaccine liability and tort law reform usually doesn't.
Liberman is the only major liberal in congress I can think of who's
come out in favor of tort law reform (without which you historically
wouldn't HAVE any vaccines). There must be some others, but they're not
very visible. Historically, The Democrats didn't give in to legal
protection of vaccine-makers until there very nearly weren't any
vaccines or vaccine producers left in the US (I think we're down to
about 4 from about 30). That's how out of touch they are.


From: Steve Harris <>
Subject: Re: AZT and Wacko American MDs - was Re: MDs forcing kids to take 
Date: 11 Aug 2005 16:17:05 -0700
Message-ID: <>

David Wright wrote:
> Actually, trying to tag the anti-thimerosal crowd as "liberals" is
> rather disgusting in its own right.  The anti-thimerosal people are
> a mixture of Luddite nitwits and relatives of autistic children who
> are looking for someone to blame.  This sort of thing crosses all
> ideological boundaries -- or are you going to tell me that good ol'
> Dan Burton (R-Ind) is a "liberal"?


You can find a few crossovers on any political issue you like,
including the war in Iraq and tort reform. But while all liberals are
not luddites, I think it's closer to the truth that most luddites are
liberals.  As I pointed out in another message, Ralph Nader was never
in danger of splitting the Republican party in 2000. He DID split the
Democrats and give us Bush. His group is a subset of the Left, and a
not-uninfluential one.


From: Steve Harris <>
Subject: Re: AZT and Wacko American MDs - was Re: MDs forcing kids to take 
Date: 11 Aug 2005 16:26:25 -0700
Message-ID: <>

Caledonia wrote:
> Steve Harris wrote:
> > This is where liberalism really bugs me. Liberals are the poison
> > paranoia people.
> I always thought liberals were the people who wanted to extend
> healthcare benefits to cover all individuals living in the U.S. Or at
> the very least, expand government programs serving uninsured children
> and provide childhood immunizations regardless of
> nationality/immigration status, sort of like the Kennedy/Kerry
> proposal.
> Caledonia


Yes, liberals are indeed the people who never met a government program
for citizens they didn't like.

The Kennedy/Kerry proposal is just the tail end of a Clinton program
that effectively 50% socialized the vaccine business in the early 90's,
and came close to completing the job of driving every last vaccine
maker off American soil (a goal which seems to be dear to the
Democratic heart, for some reason). When they're all gone, no doubt
we'll import all our vaccines from other countries. While liberals no
doubt whine about the outsourcing, loss of jobs, and maybe even vaccine

The essence of liberalism is to bind up the mouths of the kine who
tread the grain. Then to complain about flour shortages and high
prices, and call for government-subsidized bread.


Index Home About Blog