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Thursday, July 31, 2014

Cons -- Can we Pray away the Con?

I've taken to calling a lot of so-called "conservatives" "cons", because so many of these people, at least their politicians, advocates, activists and speakers, are confidence people (con artists) and all of them are huckstering policies and concepts that are inimical to the people in the crowds they work. To be fair "confidence" artistry is as old as trade and almost the definition of politicians. So I wanted to explain the distinctions. But then as I researched I saw that the psychology involved is more than just legitimate advocacy. Cons use fear to permanently change people.

Root of Huckstering - definitions of the terms

Con is short for con artist. Though it is shorthand for "conservative" in the way that modern so-called conservatives behave. Since convincing, building confidence in schemes, and getting folks to follow one is part of being a politician, calling conservative politicians cons is almost an oxymoron. All activists are trying to convince people to do something, but a con artist is trying to convince people to do something that isn't in their own interest, or more accurately is in the "private, separate interest" of the con artist. So conning people, works along with bribery, violence and extortion, to get people to go along with income transfers and policies that hurt them. A con artist gets the oppressed to go along with the oppression. And when in power is getting folks to not recognize tyranny for what it is as con artists usually don't use violence up front.

Conservative con artistry is aimed at something kind of dark.

All Activists use psychology but....

All activists, salesmen, hucksters and politicians use psychology to win recruits and followers. It's the job of the ancient tools of rhetoric and the modern tools of advertising to interest and excite listeners (or readers) to step up and follow a program or buy a product, and activists and politicians do just that. But there is something special about conservative cons that draws from their emphasis on negativity.

Playing on Negative Emotions

Conservatives also build a base by exploiting psychology. Consciously or unconsciously they exploit emotions like anger, fear, and other negative emotions. These seem to be programmed into the brain:

The Cambridge Journal article notes that:

"differing political views are ubiquitous and deep-seated, and they often follow common, recognizable lines. The supporters of tradition and stability, sometimes referred to as conservatives, do battle with the supporters of innovation and reform, sometimes referred to as liberals."

They further note that:

"A rapidly growing body of empirical evidence documents a multitude of ways in which liberals and conservatives differ from each other in purviews of life with little direct connection to politics, from tastes in art to desire for closure and from disgust sensitivity to the tendency to pursue new information."[citation below]

It seems to be built into a psychological dichotomy in us humans that conservatives prefer negative emotions. Ring of fire reports on that study:

“[N]ot only do political positions favoring defense spending, roadblocks to immigration, and harsh treatment of criminals seem naturally to mesh with heightened response to threatening stimuli but those fostering conforming unity (school children reciting the pledge of allegiance), traditional lifestyles (opposition to gay marriage), enforced personal responsibility (opposition to welfare programs and government provided healthcare), longstanding sources of authority (Biblical inerrancy; literal, unchanging interpretations of the Constitution), and clarity and closure (abstinence-only sex education; signed pledges to never raise taxes; aversion to compromise) do, as well. Heightened response to the general category of negative stimuli fits comfortably with a great many of the typical tenets of political conservatism.”

More at:

Ring of fire further quotes:

“Thus, it is reasonable to hypothesize that individuals who are physiologically and psychologically responsive to negative stimuli will tend to endorse public policies that minimize tangible threats by giving prominence to past, traditional solutions, by limiting human discretion (or endorsing institutions, such as the free market, that do not require generosity, discretion, and altruism), by being protective, by promoting ingroups relative to out-groups, and by embracing strong, unifying policies and authority figures.”

Producing conservatives through propaganda.

It's my belief that this conditioning starts with children, as I want to think it's mostly choice (and not merely wiring) whether a person is primed for negative reactions or positive ones, it is disturbing to read data that shows it is conditioning. And yes while Liberals are often negatively motivated by reaction to what conservatives are doing so neither is exclusively the province of just one orientation. Still fear-mongerers and those affected by it, do or advocate violence and harm to others. They don't just seem cruder and more insensitive, the measures show they really are.

Some folks may be born as cons... or created.

BF Skinner and Conditioning

These findings confirm almost a century of disturbing science and pyschology. I remember how in his book Walden II BF Skinner described a behaviorally conditioned Utopia (which actually was extremely frightening when you read it critically) and he also wrote "Beyond Freedom and Dignity" where he is quoted:

"What do we mean when we say we want to be free? Usually we mean we don’t want to be in a society that punishes us for doing what we want to do. Okay -- aversive stimuli don’t work well anyway, so out with them! Instead, we’ll only use reinforcers to “control” society. And if we pick the right reinforcers, we will feel free, because we will be doing what we feel we want!"

He was more right than I thought. And the right has intentionally been using that knowledge.

That is what demagogues, preachers, activists and politicians have been doing for centuries. Unfortunately fear and loathing motivate people negatively. In his books he showed that aversive reinforcers actually make society more violent and nasty. Behavioral therapy is out of style largely because it "works" but not in a way that benefits society.

The dynamic of operant conditioning is regressive and con leaders have known for years that they can condition people into conservative (negative) reactions through repeated stimulus and fear-mongering. There is a method to the madness, and while one might not be able to pray away the con once it is wired in, prayers, preachings, childhood stories, and repeated lies can instill fear -- and that changes the dynamic of the brain itself.

And there are plenty of studies that indicate that that is the case. Unlike being Gay, one can be turned into a conservative (brainwise) through fearful and traumatic experiences in childhood. This is not only true in humans, it is also true in animals.

Childhood Trauma induces brain changes

“Animals placed in traumatic, fear-inducing situations around the time of puberty show high and sustained levels of aggression later in life. And while rats cannot substitute for humans, the scared rats also showed changes in hormone levels, brain activity, and genetic expression that appear very similar to traits observed among troubled and unusually violent people.”

So there is method in the Right Wings Madness. They scare people, and aim to scare them, starting during puberty, with the goal of permanently changing their brains and making them conservatives. Trauma (fear and violence) even makes them less intelligent. Those exposed to fear and stress were:

"found to have deficits in verbal declarative memory function based on neuropsychological testing. Studies, using a variety of measures (including the Wechsler Memory Scale, the visual and verbal components of the Selective Reminding Test, the Auditory Verbal Learning Test, Paired Associate Recall, the California Verbal New Learning Test, and the Rivermead Behavioral Memory Test), found specific deficits in verbal declarative memory function"

I like to hope that traumatized people can be converted back to a more optimistic normal, but I know they are conditioned into it. That the effects are bio-chemical. So I'm no longer that optimistic. Just as it may not be able to "pray away the gay", it's may not be possible to pray away the con, but the job of the con artist, activist and politician to try.

I had a different article in mind when I started writing. But this is enough for this post. It's depressing and a bit traumatic to read that the very things that scare conservatives make them act the same way. The right of course will put out the tu quo que argument that the left does it too. Well fearmongering is never right. The only thing preventing us sometimes from solving problems is our negative reaction to negativity.

Can we pray away the Con? Pray away the fear? Man I hope so.

Links and Sources:

Ring of Fire Radio
Cambridge Journal link:
Ring of Fire:
BF Skinner sources:
Beyond Freedom and Dignity:
Walden II
Quotes from Skinner:
Childhood trauma articles:

Saturday, July 26, 2014

An Ideology of Privateering

Arr me mates! When we think of pirates we usually think of Johnny Depp playing the role of Jack Sparrow. But piracy has a history that goes way back into antiquity. For example, the reality behind "Homer" was Greek pirates versus Trojan pirates. In most of history merchant ships weren't that much different from warships. They were armed. If they saw a ship that looked stronger than them, they fled. If they were hungry and on the hunt, they pursued. In times where rule of law isn't strong enough the law of the jungle applies and each ship, merchant or warship, is a little kingdom. Thus theft, business and warfare have always been connected.

That ideology has been passed on down to today.

The ideology of privateering, believed by sea dogs and their descendents, is the notion that everything should be privately owned and governed. And that any loot or property acquired through force and occupation, as long as a legal title is generated either by forgery or bribery, is the property of the thief. The ideology of privateering says that “as long as it is legal” anything goes! A pirate is only "illegal" if he doesn't have some permit from government for his piracy. If one has a title, letter of marquee, or corporate charter, as long as it isn't deemed illegal by a court, it is perfectly justified. Under this ideology property taken, including via warfare, property, human beings or vital public services. In the ideology of privateering, looting is the point, not a simple benefit. For the privateer, laws are written to justify looting. Rule by the strongest is assumed, and those who lose a battle or get conned, don't deserve any share in the loot acquired. The logic of privateering includes:

  • Private Government of property, people, government functions and enterprise.
  • Piracy, deception, theft, as long as the things stolen are from “enemies” or “losers.”
  • Enslaving enemies and victims, buying and selling anything for a buck, including people.
  • Smuggling, predatory extraction, wild catting, colonialism
  • Private warfare, filibustering.

And on the contrary, if a person is deemed by law, no matter how corrupt, to no longer own a thing, their use of it is piracy.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

A Vision of Angels waging Peace

I have a vision of Angels waging Peace,
flying high above the hate and fighting of hate and fear

Blowing the mighty Shofar from high above, heard with a mighty cheer!
Sending out a blast of Justice, mercy, forgiveness and love
instead of attacking heedlessly the insane humans below.
They blow a horn that opens doors, and walls fall.

Yes, my vision is of a mighty army, so powerful and confident,
It needs no guns, missiles or bombs to attack.
Instead the angels come in in a line to circle and dance!
and blow the horn of second chances!
Angels Bringing bread and honey, food, clothing and money.
filling up carts and vendor stands with overflowing goods
Instead of bulldozing houses, building up new roads!
And paying people to pursue the ways of peace, instead of war!

In my vision, trains run from Turkey to Medina and Mosul, Baghdad an Kabul, and other paths.

And the roads are filled with tourists and lovers, fearing only tourist traps.
Let everyone travel when and where willing! Let them live their lives in freedom, coming and going!
And let folks live in any town where they can make a living.
and be citizens of where they hang their coats.
Let us take away the power from the demagogues and profiteers.
And the liars who wear religious clothes.
And still we'll hear the bells and calls to prayer, all the louder.
Because those called go freely.

Christopher H. Holte

Monday, July 21, 2014

Thoughts on the History of Fascism

Did some reading at the Doctor's Office. Thought I'd fill in some of my weak areas on Napoleon III and Bonapartism. When I was reading on Mussolini I found references to "Accion Frances" and wanted to trace them to their origin.  I'm kind of glad I did. 
Before it was known as Fascism, in France they called it "Bonapartism", before it was known as Bonapartism it was known as Caesarism or alternatively "Imperialism". Fascism seems to date to ancient times. Certainly the Second Assyrian Empire had most of the pieces in place: Religious chauvinism, adventurism, fearless leaders, big rapacious armies. The modern form ads some communications and psychological refinements. But the more I study the subject the more I realize that there is something atavistic in most societies and that the kind of xenophobia that gets associated with military adventures and hyper-nationalism is just an expression of the darkside of human nature, akin to the war efforts that Jane Goodall observed by Chimpanzees against baboons and also against other Chimps. Human aggression seems to blot out other forms of rational thinking.
We'd like to think we are better than Chimps. Not sure it's true.
Napoleon III wasn't an unalloyed evil. And most of the severe fascist bloodthirsty expression of France during his time were expressed outwardly at French Colonies rather than at home. And of course he's not remembered much because he really blew it at the end of his reign.  But you can see the same bloodthirsty behaviors whether looking at a Juan Peron or a Mussolini. Come to think of it, also Andrew Jackson, Polk and our dear leader GW Bush.  Hitler, Stalin and Mao were quantitatively different. More a throwback to Martin Luther or the Inquisition, but with mass production of murder. Just thinking. Let's hope they keep blowing it, because fascism blows.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

The Time for Caudillos

The time for Caudillos is over; Ceasars, Tsars and Kings,
We don't need them anymore.
We don't need more fearless leaders, holding knives to our dreams.
We don't need more warlords, keeping power over victim screams.

The time for demagogues on horseback is over, should be fading into silence.
We don't need them anymore.
We don't need to hear propaganda, we need truth and justice and fairness.
We don't need dukes, stars and barons, who build empires on evictions, theft and fraud.

We don't need to mythologize our leaders, they are bloody human, like the rest of us.

Christopher H. Holte

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Springtime for Fukushima. A musical Play in 3 Acts.

Springtime for Fukushima. Or how I learned to love radioactive contamination
A musical Play in 3 Acts.
Act 1 A Tsunami is Just a big wave
Scene 1 A Tsunami is just a big wave!
Scene 2 Somehow Unit 2 didn’t blow
Scene 3 Row Row Row your boat, right into the plume
Scene 4 There is nothing going on here, nothing to fear.
Scene 5 Kabuki over the storage pools under the deep blue sky
Scene 6 No the Ocean isn’t steaming and that’s not a nuclear glow
Act 2 To Evacuate or Not to Evacuate.
Scene 1 To Evacuate or not evacuate, that is the question.
Scene 2 We don’t need help but all our junk is floating your way.
Scene 3 Everything is under control here, there is nothing to worry about.
Scene 4 We will restart our reactors, as soon as we can find them.
Scene 5 Our Robots can’t get inside, because their insides are fried.
Scene 6 No the Ocean isn’t steaming and that’s not a nuclear glow
Act 3 How I wish I had some Ice 9
Scene 1 You are all perfectly healthy, and there is no reason to be afraid.
Scene 2 We don’t need any help, but suggest you don’t inhale.
Scene 3 Everything is under control here, but we can’t find our reactors.
Scene 4 We have many many openings, please come and work for us.
Scene 5 If you are sick and dying, it’s really not our fault.
Scene 6 How I wish I had some Ice 9 this freezing isn’t working.
closing number:
"Thank you for coming to us, but it is time for you to go."

Christopher H. Holte

Friday, July 11, 2014

The Burning Bush

No Burning Bush

There ain’t no burning bush, no beckoning pillar of fire,
No Angels to stop your hand, when you use a tire iron in your ire.
You and only you, are responsible for the deeds you do.
Though you whine and cavail, they will be to no avail.
For there ain’t nobody else, to come to your pitiful aid,
when you’ve lived a life diseased, and behaved like a cruel and brutal nave.
G*d might speak to you and me, but you covered your own ears.
And when you get dragged down to hell, the path will be greased with your own tears.
There ain’t no burning fire to light your way, no pillar of smoke by day.
For you treated the light as a sign, that you were favored in your crimes.
And you saw the burning pillar of smoke, and recreated it on your enemies.
To loot, and defraud and steal. And enslave those who asked your help.

There ain’t no burning Bush, no beckoning pillar of fire.
If you are too blind to see the light, and too deluded to clean the mire.
If you blow filth and hate and smoke, it will be only you who will come to choke.
If you hate and fear and loathe, others will loathe you in return.
When the darkness consumes you in degrees, your own curses will come back to you.
For a life of greed and hate and disease, dooms the hater to greater suffering.

There ain’t no burning bush, except the one you used to light your cross.
And what makes the fire burn brighter, are the sheets you wore when you burned your own brother.
Learn what fires the lights in hell, and creates the burning smell,
Are the actions we do on this earth, and how we treat orphans and widows.
For you seal your fate in life when you doom yourself with strife.
And your ruin your world with violence, and impoverish it with your corruption.
And the things you preach for others, will come back to you in spades.
And when they throw dirt on your coffin, you’ll wail and beg and pray,
But all the judgment upon you, is what you made on this very day.

There ain’t no burning bush, no beckoning pillar of fire.
When the darkness consumes you as well, you preach your own hell.
For words of angry hate will only come back on you. And the rapture that you seek.
If it comes will take the innocent, and you will be left behind.
Oh, I hear the voices of the wounded and dead, and know that they’ll drag you away.
For only the ineffable lord, has the right to make us pay.
When you are laid to your rest, and your head goes to Sheol.
Your torture will be the children on earth who play,
And your inability to enjoy a sunny day.

You can stand upon that dais. And shout your hate to the world.
But I wish you’d shout your love to the women and children,
And look out for the stranger and your brother.
For there ain’t no burning bush, no beckoning pillar of fire.
But there is a voice whispering to all of us,

We must do right by one another.

Christopher H. Holte
This is part of a series of poems with the same refrain and theme that date back to at least the 80's (maybe 70's).

Thursday, July 10, 2014


Boxes in the ground?
What a score that is.
Waiting for the horses drawing caissons,
but the rest of the family is already scattered around.
Stones of the mothers.
Stones of the fathers.
Stones of children who died too young.
And stones turned black with soot.
Where are the trees?
Where are the roots?
The grass is dead and dying,
and there are no new green shoots.
It's a dark day for the dead and dying.
Though some things glow at night.
When the cemeteries are full of stones.
It is too late to set things right.
Christopher H. Holte

Friday, July 4, 2014

Ron Paul's Fourth of July demagoguery

Ron Paul writes []:

"July 4, 2014 – Remember: The Declaration of Independence served notice to a tyrannical king that the “the good people of these colonies . . . declare” their right to be “FREE AND INDEPENDENT STATES.”

He along with other cons have been beating a drum of accusations that the current President is somehow acting like a "king", but he's not. We aren't being ruled by a ruler we didn't elect from London. We are being ruled by ourselves with an elected President presiding over the government.

"The colonists had had enough authoritarian government and were not going to put up with it any longer. The crucial question that we must ask ourselves is: what would the Founders think of what we tolerate from our government’s abuse of our liberties today?"

Yes, we should not tolerate abuse of our liberties today. Folks like Ron Paul claim that we are being spied on too much, and they are right. But most of that spying is on behalf of owners of intellectual property, giant businesses and banks, and folks wanting to stick their noses into our womenfolks bedrooms. So yes our founders might have some problems with our massive spy apparatus, but would they focus on the King or "parliament". In their day the enemy was the parliament, corrupted by and owned by the King, but passing the tyrannical laws that treated American colonists like second class citizens. Now it is women and minorities who are treated this way.

"My bet is that, not only would they be shocked, but they would be ashamed as well."

And mostly by Ron Pauls allies in the Tea Party movement who have their rebellion precisely backwards. They would be aghast at the rise of giant monopolies like the Oil/OPEC monopoly, Defense industries, and Tea Party people.

"An argument can be made that liberty is in greater jeopardy today than it was in 1776."

And yes, from the Republicans. And I agree:

"Hopefully soon we will have enough support to send a loud and clear message to Washington for establishing TRUE LIBERTY in our land." - - -

--- by kicking out demagogues like his son and the Tea Party. Meanwhile, he seems to me to be inciting rebellion and insurrection against the constitution and for the sake of Giant Conglomerates like those of the East India Company whose favors sparked our revolution. Instead of boycotting monopoly Tea, he's instigating these folks to mix it with Jim Jones coolaid.


Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Tyranny -- John Locke


John Locke defined tyranny as:
"199. As usurpation is the exercise of power which another hath a right to, so tyranny is the exercise of power beyond right, which nobody can have a right to; and this is making use of the power any one has in his hands, not for the good of those who are under it, but for his own private, separate advantage. When the governor, however entitled, makes not the law, but his will, the rule, and his commands and actions are not directed to the preservation of the properties of his people, but the satisfaction of his own ambition, revenge, covetousness, or any other irregular passion."