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House Slaves and Field Slaves: the Bill Maher Remark

House Slaves and Field Slaves: the Bill Maher Remark

By Dennis Loo (6/4/17)

Bill Maher is catching hell for his use of the N word in interviewing Nebraska Senator Ben Sasse, with some calling for HBO to cancel his show.

Here is the exchange in question:

Decision-Making: A Primer

Decision-making – a primer

By Dennis Loo (6/2/17)

This is a slightly edited version of something Dennis Loo shared with a class recently.

Everyday we make decisions. You cannot be alive and not do it all the time.

This is not mainly due to our current POTUS's stance, although his decisions especially affect us all. This is a commentary on that process.

To accomplish seeing the architecture of decision-making is different from what mostly you have been taught, where you are often presented with is a set of conclusions and you are expected to memorize and/or accept those conclusions.

Aka Appeal to Authority: “you should accept this because I or another authority tell(s) you so.” A variant of this perspective is where Republicans consider other Republican leaders more credible than others (such as Democrats) and Democrats correspondingly are more likely to buy or accept Democratic leaders' thoughts and behavior and reject what GOP leaders are saying. In other words, the public as a whole is not really examining whether a conclusion is a) sound in its premise, b) the chain of reasoning is sensible and reasonable, and c) the rigor of the evidence is persuasive or even rises to the level of scientific or mathematical proof, but instead usually accept what they’ve been told by what their favorite authority tells them to think. As you can see, if “your truth” is their “truth” then whether you are consciously aware of it or not, you have accepted tacitly the main authorities defining what is acceptable to think about and what is not. You have accepted their terms to start with. Although it is terribly under-rated as a device usually used in governance, eliminating possible other paths and considerations from the agenda - what is considered "realistic" to consider, often described as "politics is the art of the possible" - actually is a version of determining power itself. 

There are times that this public tendency is broken, such as during the 60s when there was a “credibility gap.” This “credibility gap” was widely observed and even got its name from the phenomenon that when the government spokesman or the LBJ would say something, most of the people would not believe their government was being truthful with them. The “credibility gap” also opened up because anti-war activists told a very different story that many people eventually came to accept. As Henry Kissinger writes in his memoirs, a relatively small group of activists exerted a disproportionate influence, far greater than their actual numbers.

Read more: Decision-Making: A Primer

The New Cold War Isn’t the Old Cold War

The New Cold War Isn’t the Old Cold War

By Dennis Loo (5/29/17)

In its March 2017 issue the New Yorker magazine ran a lengthy essay entitled “Trump, Putin and the New Cold War.” In a prior article I quoted what I consider that article’s essence:

“What we have is a situation in which the strong leader of a relatively weak state is acting in opposition to weak leaders of relatively strong states [the latter being Trump leading the US],” General Sir Richard Shirreff, the former Deputy Supreme Allied Commander of NATO, said. “And that strong leader is Putin. He is calling the shots at the moment.” 

I am using that same quote to introduce you to a novel way to make sense of what is going on.

From the latter 1940s until 1989 when the Berlin Wall came down, we had the first Cold War between the US-led camp versus the USSR-China-led camp. This pitted the capitalist camp against the real or pseudo-socialist camp[1] and led to many things, including the John F. Kennedy effort to boost science and education after the USSR launched Sputnik – making them first in outer space - and the famous 1954 Brown v. Board of Education Supreme Court decision. Both decisions were designed to make the US more appealing to Third World and non-aligned nations because socialism gave people for the first time a choice between capitalism and something radically different. JFK's initiative to make Americans smarter has with the socialism's decline and thus capitalism's alternative no longer real, made bright Americans no longer a good thing. Free education (e.g., California's 1960 Master Plan) has given way to educational plans for saddling students with debt as their primary goal, credulity a plus for businesses' sales, hoodwinking people ideologically (right-wing media), and a brain drain out of the US (for example, to India rather than from).

We now have a different situation: the capitalist camp won the Cold War. Billions of people no longer can choose capitalism or socialism but have to accept whatever capitalism offers. A number of consequences flow out of that.

Read more: The New Cold War Isn’t the Old Cold War

Elaine Brower 2

Elaine Brower of World Can't Wait speaking at the NYC Stop the War on Iran rally 2/4/12