Slogans, Dissent and other random postings

Random thoughts for the day:

1. Sloganeering
Phrases like “burdensome regulations” and “unfair trade deals” which are becoming standard utterances by members of the current Administration, are slogans. By themselves, without context or explanation, they carry no meaning. They are like a blank canvas upon which a listener can project any idea or meaning that they want.
This, of course, is exactly why slogans are so useful. They allow the listener or reader to replace analysis and information searches with projection. (see also Make America Great Again).
2. Dissent
Dissent is NOT disloyalty. Everybody (and I mean everybody) needs to understand this, so that they can defend people who are penalized or marginalized simply for uttering ideas that are temporarily unwelcome. When people who laugh in Congressional hearings are arrested, tried and convicted, this is nothing to do with “law and order” or “respect” (two more classuc slogans usef by the authoritarian and the insecure).This is about criminalizing peaceful dissent, an activity that forms part of the protections that are enshrined in the First Amendment.
3. Domestic Terrorism is real, but it’s not just Scary Brown People
Another reminder that instead of obsessing over Muslims, we should be paying one hell of a lot more attention to domestic crackpots.
4. The wonderful world of political insults
Once upon a time, the old cynical political Texan, Lyndon Baines Johnson, once proposed to his staff that they should spread a rumor that one of their political opponents was a goat-fucker. When his staff protested “but sir, we all know it’s not true”, LBJ is said to have replied “well of course it’s not true. But let’s watch the s.o.b. try to deny it”.
This attempt to smear Rep. Keith Ellison is therefore not only juvenile, but stunningly unoriginal.
5. The “bring back coal jobs” myth
An explanation of what the obsession with “bring back coal” is really all about. It is empty symbolism ungrounded in reality
6. How euphemism allows us to avoid reality
Stephen Pinker’s explanation of how talking in euphemisms can allow us to dress up or obfuscate Bad Stuff.
7. Why did Fox News fire Bill O’Reilly?
This article, with its concept of brand consumers as “secondary stakeholders”, provides a good explanation for why Fox News decided to part ways with Bill O’Reilly. Ultimately, although there was no direct damage to the corporations advertising on Fox based on any effective consumer boycott, the corporations realized that the actions of O’Reilly were creating a fundamental messaging and credibility gap that they were going to have a good deal of trouble explaining.
8. the strange story of restaurant job losses in San Diego
Back in October 2006, almost unnoticed by most people, the residential condo market crashed in San Diego. That was the beginning of the property price collapse that rippled up through California in 2007, and which impacted several other over-priced areas (most notably Las Vegas, Phoenix and south Florida).
Now, somebody digging into government data has found this interesting graph showing a steep drop in food sector employment in and around San Diego. This is very interesting, in a “why is this happening?” sort of way.
There are several hypotheses being floated for the drop. One possible explanation is the increase in the Minimum Wage, but other cities that increased minimum wages have not seen this trend. Another is the flight of restaurant employees back over the border to Mexico.


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