Friday, January 21, 2011

And, Of Course, We're Not Immune To All This Crap Too

Down in Santa Ana:
Santa Ana police were notified Thursday of two different instances of graffiti threatening the life of California Governor Jerry Brown.

Assange Threatens Prosecution Of Palin And Others Under Australian Law

Murder threats can be prosecuted:
Under Australian law, inciting violence is a serious crime: an offense which could even trigger the prosecution of members of the US political class and mainstream media who called for the assassination of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, according to his attorney.

Comments by Robert Stary, Assange's Melbourne-based lawyer, were carried in the US by a Friday broadcast of National Public Radio's Morning Edition.

"Our main concern is really the possible extradition to the US," he said. "We've been troubled by the sort of rhetoric that has come out of various commentators and principally Republican politicians — Sarah Palin and the like — saying Mr. Assange should be executed, assassinated."

Stary added: "Certainly if Sarah Palin or any of those other politicians come to Australia, for whatever purpose, then we can initiate a private prosecution, and that's what we intend to do."

...Huckabee, the former governor of Arkansas who's long professed to be Christian, claimed during a Nov. book signing that he wanted to see Assange and the leaker "executed" for their actions.

...Palin, similarly, wrote on her Facebook page that Assange should be pursued "with the same urgency we pursue al Qaeda and Taliban leaders" -- the implication being that the US military should assassinate him in person or by remote.

Conservative talk show host Bill O'Reilly has also called for the leaker to be executed, but stopped short of calling for violence against Assange.

Likewise, Rep. Peter King (R-NY) suggested that WikiLeaks should be designated a "foreign terrorist organization" by the Secretary of State. His call was echoed by the Senate's top Republican, Mitch McConnell (R-KY), who called Assange a "terrorist" and said the US should "change the law" in order to pursue him if current statutes did not permit it.

..."That is incitement to commit murder," Assange continued. "That is an offense. When people call for illegal, deliberate assassination and kidnapping of others, they should be held to account. They should be charged for incitement to commit murder."

"Liberty-Loving Stance"

So that's what they're calling it these days:
A Boston-area blogger who declared "one down, 534 to go" after the shooting of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords has had his gun license pulled and a "large amount" of weapons removed his home.

Travis Corcoran, a comic book retailer in Arlington, Massachusetts, made the comment in a blog posting on January 8, the day of Giffords' shooting.

...The "534 to go" comment appeared to refer to the other 434 members of the US House, and the 100 US senators.

...In a Twitter exchange with reporter Laura Leslie, he declared, "As per the Declaration of [Independence], when a [government] becomes destructive those ends, it may be abolished ... and the most moral approach is that which spares the maximum number of lives. Thus, assassination is a legitimate tool."

He also argued that his blog is "to some degree, political theater (with a very serious anarchocapitalist theme) and thus long-time readers understand that '1 down, X to go' COMBINED with my strong assertion is ... entirely in keeping with a liberty-loving stance..."

Julissa Veloz - "Take Control"

I recognize this! Interesting that she is also with Carrillo Music, along with K.B.

Changes On Horizon For Fairbanks, AK, Weather

Signs are, tomorrow will be much the same as today (with morning hours quite cold).

The National Weather Service forecasts seem to be basically-reliable again. They suggest warming should start midday Sunday; I think warming starts Sunday evening. The difference in timing is minute. You'll know it when it starts. On Monday, temperature increase will be vertiginous. Even still, I think they are underestimating how warm it will get (mid-20's by Tuesday morning seems reasonable). Temperatures are likely to fall a little bit later in the week.

Fanatics' Call To Arms During The Second Week Of June, 2010

One of the most-interesting reactions I got from my Sarah Palin post last week was this:
I especially like the last two sentences. It's even better than his assertion that JFK assassination conspiracies are illogical but a connection between Palin and Tucson is clear as a bell.
Did he scoff at me? I think he did! This fellow scoffed at me on the Internet!

We've come to a strange pass when even the most outlandish JFK speculations (e.g., that Jackie tried to flee the convertible after the first sniper shot, but the limo driver from the Secret Service spun around and shot JFK in the head and then ordered Jackie to sit back down) are simply Accepted Facts, but where even the suggestion of a connection between Sarah Palin and Jared Loughner is beyond the pale. It would be child's play to concoct an assassination conspiracy yarn connecting Palin and Loughner. I'm inclined to do so, just for the challenge!

What would such a yarn consist of? Well, there is the Palin's riflescope map - almost too easy!

But there must be more to it than that.

A friend sent this video, where Glenn Beck speaks a bit too freely about shooting people in the head.

Beck is talking about the Left having to do so, not the Right, but it's violent hyperbole nonetheless. Indeed, Beck was expostulating about violence the entire month of June, 2010.

I was struck by the date of Beck's video: June 10, 2010. Here is a second example, from Tucson, that same week:

This announcement from the Pima County Republican website was totally provocative, but it's in that same time frame too.

What else was going on that second week of June? What was special about that week?

On June 12, 2010, FOX News hosted this ostentatious effort to unite the Ron Paul Libertarians and the Sarah Palin social conservatives (perhaps a misnomer, because Palin is really more of a Tea-Party-type than a holy roller, but whatever) behind the GOP banner in advance of the November elections.

In the old days, it was the responsibility of the party to iron out these sorts of differences, but as David Frum has pointed out, these days, the GOP is more an appendage of FOX News than vice-versa, so the responsibility falls on FOX News.

Everyone here is on their best behavior, trying to be as agreeable and pleasant to each other as possible, and to find common ground.

So, what could be wrong with that?

Extremists don't think like ordinary people in some respects. When extremists hear rumors of trouble and hear a call for unity, they don't think in terms of finding common ground and working for the common good. They think in terms of silencing all opposition.

I remember once being in a theatrical production where, unbeknownst to everyone, the director was an extremist. A pleasant person, but an extremist nonetheless. Several times, the director spoke to the cast and crew about the importance of working together for the greater good of the show. As a cast member, I interpreted the director's comments as meaning we must all work together for the greater good of the show (something which community-theater people do anyway, almost instinctively).

As an example, if you gather five actors together, you might have six different opinions about which direction the sun rises in the morning, but for the sake of being agreeable (particularly if it's in the script), everyone decides that, for this production, the sun will rise in the east.

That kind of agreeability was not what the director had in mind, though. What the director meant was that one of the crew members persisted in bringing unanticipated difficulties to the director's attention, which interfered with the director's interpretation of the principle of unity. The greater good of the show thus (regrettably) required that the crew member be crushed. The show must go on!

This kind of extremism can pop up whenever a call to unity goes out. Another example is the Irish Republican Army. All they ever asked for was a United Ireland. You have a problem with that?

Now, Jared Loughner, with his concerns about currency, might hold Ron Paul in some esteem, since Paul is concerned about currency too, so when Loughner heard the call to unity (which he well might have, given the ubiquity of mass media), his thoughts naturally turned to his nemesis, Gabrielle Giffords, and to murder.

That second week of June, 2010, Jared Loughner was likely in his second week of summer session at Pima Community College (Sessions A & C start up there just after Memorial Day) and rapidly-becoming infamous for his many outbursts. Was he deliberately ramping up the chaos in order to establish a public record for instability as part of a plan to plead insanity if his efforts to shoot Gabrielle Giffords went awry and he was captured? (Jared Loughner's ex-girl friend certainly seems to suggest as much.) If so, careful planning!

It's also important to remember that another fanatic from Fresno also heard Glenn Beck's warnings of danger and undertook to rid the world of the Tides Foundation, in July, 2010:
Williams is charged with allegedly opening fire on police on Interstate 580 in Oakland, California, while on his way to "start a revolution" by attacking members of the ACLU and the Tides Foundation. As we've reported, the Tides Foundation is a favorite punching bag of Glenn Beck's, and he counts the group among his cabal of liberals aiming to bring socialism to America.
It may be that Byron Williams and Jared Loughner were thinking along parallel lines. And why? Because they believed themselves instructed to do so? Imagine!

Now, do I really think that Sarah Palin instigated a plot to rub out Gabrielle Giffords? Probably not - human agency is in the way, and people are far too clever (with JFK, people have never given Oswald his diabolical due, as they aren't doing so with Loughner today).

Nevertheless, would it be easy to create an all-but-airtight conspiracy theory where Sarah Palin issued a kill order against Giffords? Child's play! I haven't even really started with that second week of June, 2010, and I'm sure more "evidence" lies in plain sight. A determined conspiracy theorist has A LOT to work with!

As King Henry II learned with Becket many years ago, all a leader has to do is put the idea *out there*, and others will take up the challenge.

We must also give sufficient weight to a Call to Unity: the most dangerous call in all of politics!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Unsafe Computer Sex Proves My Undoing

Today, I was out trolling the precincts of the Far Right; specifically watching Glenn Beck videos from the second week of June, 2010. These days, Glenn Beck is in a very pacifist mood, but he was in a much different mood in June, 2010.

Slowly, at first, my computer began producing odd and peculiar error messages. Programs that I wasn't aware were operating began crashing due to obscure errors. Finally, I accessed one Web Site to look at a video, and my computer simply crashed.

Diagnosis: some kind of Trojan Horse, or malware, or a worm, or a bug, or a virus, or some random strand of RNA that got left behind. First time this has ever happened to me!

Cure: maybe on Tuesday, when the C. returns.

So, I'm in a weird space now, where I've lost a bit of computer functionality (particularly regarding DMTC files).

Nevertheless, there is something quite special about that second week of June, 2010. That is where the key will be found....

Central Alaska - Land Of Extreme Events And Short-Sighted Weather Forecasters

For days, the official weather forecasts for Fairbanks have bordered on the absurd. The forecasters see the warmth not far away, and assume that it means that the temperatures will start warming up soon, but don’t seem to appreciate that there are windows of opportunity for the movement of the warmer air northwards. Once our mid-week opportunity was lost (yesterday), it meant, on average, that another four days would have to pass before getting another opportunity. But the forecasters have never adjusted their forecasts. Warming is always just a day or two away in forecaster la-la land….

Official forecasts currently show warming on Saturday. I’m thinking temperatures will start warming on Sunday, but won’t really be out of the cellar until Monday.

Here is a nice map of current Alaskan temperatures. Some of the temperature gradients between north and south are pretty extreme, but as long as Fairbanks remains in the cold zone, conditions will remain – cold.

Alaska is a land of extremes, and next week’s weather may be a good demonstration. The forecasts I’m looking at seem to suggest temperatures in Fairbanks might approach freezing by Tuesday evening, so the realm of intermediate temperatures (between -20 and 0 F) might be just an evanescent phase. Once the warming seriously starts, it could be rapid.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

These Are My Peeps!

I didn't realize Sherrika (pictured in the black "Let's Go" T-Shirt) had uploaded a few of the Thursday evening workout routines onto YouTube! These are my people! Sadie, Melissa, Linda - just about everybody's here! Me too!

Pepper Von has the BEST workout classes in Sacramento!

Pepper Von Makes Breakfast

And they start talking with Jackie too, and pose a question, but then they cut her off, presumably because it has nothing to do with breakfast.

Students Don't Learn That Much In College

The emphasis here seems to be that people should be demanding more from colleges, but I don't think that's the problem.

Since college is so expensive in money and time, Americans tend to think that there should be a vocational payoff down the road, in the form of higher salaries. There is an automatic assumption there that is close to us all. We need to rethink all that. Indeed, we've got to give up all that! Just like the idea that cigarette smoking soothes the lungs, it's a false doctrine that brings only grief to countless families.

As the study makes SO CLEAR, it's what people study that's important. College has a purpose, after all. The college model is not infinitely-elastic and it can't be applied successfully everywhere.

We need to shut down college programs in teaching, business, communications - vocational tracks (that bring money into colleges) - and we need to expand college programs in science, literature, history - the liberal arts (that bring in substantially less money into colleges and are thus less-popular with college administrations).

If people need specific skills down the road they can always go to vocational schools, or, God forbid, crack open a manual:
Richard Arum, a professor of sociology and education at New York University, and Josipa Roksa, an assistant professor of sociology at the University of Virginia, recently completed a study of how much 2,300 statistically representative undergraduates—who enrolled as freshmen in a diverse group of 24 colleges and universities in 2005—had learned by the time they (in theory) were ready to graduate, in 2009. As a measuring tool, the researchers used the Collegiate Learning Assessment, a respected test of analytic reasoning, critical thinking, and written communication skills. Their findings were published this month in Academically Adrift: Limited Learning on College Campuses (University of Chicago Press) and in an accompanying white paper. It is, remarkably, the first study of its kind.

Their finding? Forty-five percent of students made no gains on the CLA during their first two years in college. Thirty-six percent made no gains over the entire four years. They learned nothing. On average, students improved by less than half a standard deviation in four years. "American higher education," the researchers found, "is characterized by limited or no learning for a large proportion of students."

The results for black students were particularly sobering. It turns out that the racial achievement gaps that shock the conscience in K-12 education get worse when students go to college.

...After controlling for demographics, parental education, SAT scores, and myriad other factors, students who were assigned more books to read and more papers to write learned more. Students who spent more hours studying alone learned more. Students taught by approachable faculty who enforced high expectations learned more. "What students do in higher education matters," the authors note. "But what faculty members do matters too."

The study also found significant differences by field of study. Students majoring in the humanities, social sciences, hard sciences, and math—again, controlling for their background—did relatively well. Students majoring in business, education, and social work did not. Our future teachers aren't learning much in college, apparently, which goes a long way toward explaining why students arrive in college unprepared in the first place.

Financial aid also matters. The study found that students whose financial aid came primarily in the form of grants learned more than those who were paying mostly with loans. ... Learning was also negatively correlated with­—surprise—time spent in fraternities and sororities.

The Fifty Most Loathesome Americans Of 2010

Huge competition for this honor. Barack Obama is only #14. Guess who is first?:
Your brain’s been cobbled together over millions of years of blind evolution and it shows. You’re clumsy, stupid, weak and motivated by the basest of urges. Your MO is both grotesquely selfish and unquestionably deferential to questionable authority. You’re not in control of your life. You wear your ignorance like a badge of honor and gleefully submit to oppression, malfeasance and kleptocracy. You will buy anything. You will believe anything.

'Angry Bird' Spies

I have 'Angry Birds' on my i-Phone, but even though I rarely play it, I'm thinking of removing it:
Any time Angry Birds or Yelp is opened on a smartphone, information is being sent to marketers -- and app developers aren't required to reveal it. Apps running on the iPhone, Android and BlackBerry platforms often collect personal information to be resold to marketing companies and initiatives such as Google's AdMob. These apps and others work in conjunction with in-phone GPS chips to give marketers detailed information on smartphone users' locations, gender, ages and, in some cases, personal contacts and use of other apps.

...Data mining from smartphone apps is endemic: A recent investigative piece in the Wall Street Journal discovered sensitive personal information was being sent to marketers by popular applications such as Angry Birds, Pandora and Yelp. This information often includes users' contacts, geographical location and a mobile phone ID unique to each user.

In many cases, smartphone app developers send collected data to third parties for profit. Neither Apple, Google nor Research in Motion's policies require app developers to explicitly inform customers that personal information may be resold.

'Anthem' from "Chess" - DMTC - Tevye Ditter

From the January 5, 2011 rehearsal for Davis Musical Theatre Company's (DMTC's) production of "Chess", here is Tevye Ditter (playing Anatoly Sergievsky) singing 'Anthem'. Also shown are Andrea Eve Thorpe (playing Florence Vassy) and Jeffrey Lloyd Heatherly (playing Walter Anderson). In addition, Nick Thompson is on the left.

"Chess" - DMTC - More Jan. 5th Rehearsal Pix

Frozen Fairbanks

The official forecast for Fairbanks, Alaska is for warming to commence around midday Friday, but I think they’re nuts. Based on this, I’m thinking warming will commence on Monday.

The temperatures up there are really, really low!

"Chess" - DMTC - David Holmes As Freddie Trumper - Jan. 5th Rehearsal

(Probably because of the nature of the set and the lighting, my digital camera had trouble focusing, and so many promising photos were ruined. A significant exception was David Holmes, who rarely confused the camera. So, here is a David Holmes gallery!)

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

"The King's Speech"

What a good movie! A King with a problem finds help, and a friend.

Harbinger Of Bad Luck

W.: So, you visited Christchurch, New Zealand, and they had a big earthquake, and you visited the Lockyer Valley in Australia, and they had a big flood. Everywhere you visit, it turns into a big disaster area.

M.: That can't be true. I've been in Sacramento for years, and - well, there is the budget deficit....

Pepper Von Suggests I Should Wear The New Shoes

M: (Hobbling, in pain) I'm sorry; I had to stop because I think I sprained my right foot, coming down hard on it's side during the 'bunny hop' sequence.

P: Well, you aren't doing yourself any favors with those shoes. That's most of your problem right there.

M.: It is? Hmmm...they are a bit old. Well, I have new shoes at home, it's just that I'm not wearing them.

P: And so the solution?

M: Maybe I should start wearing the new shoes?

Jordan Rice Funeral Today

The story that gripped all of Australia:
THE day nobody wanted has come ... perhaps appropriately, the first of what will be many hard days for Queenslanders will lead off today with the funerals of two of the heroes of the flood disasters, Donna Rice, 43, and her son Jordan, 13.

They and Jordan's brother Blake, 10, were trapped on the roof of their car in the raging torrent that surged through Toowoomba and the Lockyer Valley, killing many in its path.

When rescuers arrived, Jordan - brave beyond his years - told them to take his brother Blake first.

As the effort then turned to save Donna and Jordan, the mother and son were swept to their deaths from the roof of the car in Toowoomba after a rescue rope snapped under the force of the floodwaters.

Cheryl Bly-Chester Makes Formal Announcement Of Candidacy For Fourth Assembly Seat

Here she goes!
Cheryl Bly-Chester has announced that she will file papers to run for the 4th Assembly District tomorrow at 11 a.m. Bly-Chester has owned an environmental consulting business for 14 years while being a single mother of three.

Bly-Chester founded Rosewood Environmental Engineering in 1997. She has a 35-year engineering career in the water resources, transportation, energy and hazardous waste/environmental fields. For the last 22 years she has conducted environmental engineering projects in 22 states and 13 countries, providing consulting to dozens of industries, including ski tourism, mining and energy, water, construction and transportation. Her practice includes helping businesses unravel regulatory red tape to help protect them from undue government corrective action, fees, and fines.

Bly-Chester said she wants to use her experience to help the constituents of the 4th Assembly District:

"I was laid-off when the company where I worked was bought-out by a large French firm. I hope that my experience starting a business from the ground up, while being a single mother will resonate with voters. What sets me apart from the other candidates is my private-sector experience with water resources, energy, mineral and other natural resources, building, agricultural, and land-use issues - virtually of all the industries that are so important to the economy and jobs of the 4th district. In addition, I have also worked to protect the tourism industry in the district, because I know the importance of tourism to the Lake Tahoe area and the white-water rafting industry based on my term as a Placer County Parks and Recreation Commissioner, ski resort regulatory advisor, time share owners advisory board member, raft guide, kayak instructor, and outdoor enthusiast.

"My campaign is on behalf of those who are working hard yet struggling to get ahead in this economy. We need a common sense approach to government," said Bly-Chester. "As the founder and owner of a small business, I believe in low taxes, and as a single mother leading a household and facing college tuitions, I believe that government should be spending within its means like the rest of us and investing in the future for the next generation. Let's combine those principles and get this economy moving again."

While maintaining her business, Bly-Chester has also been busy raising three children as a single mother.

"It has been a challenge, but I am very proud of the young adults they have become."

Bly-Chester's private-sector expertise is also complemented by her policy and political experience.

• Served on the CA State Reclamation (Flood Protection) Board
• Served on the State Mining Board
• Placer County Parks and Recreation Commissioner
• Worked at both the CA Department of Water Resources and CalTrans
• Served with the Placer County Building Industry Association
• Volunteered for decades in support of our military
• Placer County Chair of the Meg Whitman for Governor campaign
• Elected Member, Central Committee, Placer County Republican Party
• Member of the Placer County Republican Congress
• Member of the Republican Women's Federated

An extended list of Bly-Chester's affiliations can be found here.

Political story

Asked about her 2003 run for Governor during the recall, Bly-Chester said: "In my consulting business I had become extremely frustrated with the onerous regulations dragging down the California industries that create jobs. My colleagues said 'put up or shut up.' So I stepped onto the statewide stage to call attention to how the state regulations were hurting us more than helping us."

It was during that long-shot campaign that Bly-Chester was interviewed by Tom Sullivan on KFBK. "He commented that he was impressed with my background and would like to see me get into more mainstream elections and run in my community. His encouraging comments struck home and have stayed with me ever since."

In the next election cycle, she ran and was elected to the Placer County Republican Central Committee, to which she was again elected for this new term. After considering an earlier run in 2008 for the 4th Assembly District, Bly-Chester has now announced that she will make her run official.

Cheryl Bly-Chester's campaign is being advised by James Fisfis, Chariot LLC.

The Seemingly-Endless Cold Spell In Central Alaska

Here at work, I've been making helpful forecasts to co-workers locked in that formidable icebox known as Fairbanks, Alaska. I thought it was going to start warming up tomorrow. I was wrong:
The long awaited warm-up in interior Alaska is likely to take even longer to arrive. I had previously-thought temperatures would increase in a stair-step fashion, starting midday Wednesday, reach a plateau, and start rising again Thursday.

The temperature forecasts carried by the Weather Underground folks are now suggesting a day's delay, with temperatures increasing in a stair-step fashion, starting midday Thursday, reach a plateau, and start rising again Friday.

Nevertheless, looking at the maps, I'm skeptical. I'm thinking a final end to the cold weather may not arrive until late Sunday, or even Monday (my pessimism is based on this).

The trouble is the deep low southwest of the Aleutian Islands is moving slowly, so the storms on the low's periphery that arrive at Alaska's shores just aren't powerful enough to dislodge the cold air. Instead, their thrust is towards coastal and southeast Alaska, so there will be a warm-up soon in places like Juneau, Anchorage, etc., but probably not central Alaska.

Pianist And Potato Gun

They say 'potato?' and he says:
"What have I done, what have I done."

Dick Cheney Thinking About A Heart Transplant

Probably rip one out from an unsuspecting bystander:
I'll have to make a decision at some point whether or not I want to go for a transplant," he said. "But we haven't addressed that yet."

Nicki Minaj - "Massive Attack"

The main advantage to getting Direct TV is that I can now watch videos like this, cycled on a loop, and running 24 hours a day.

Fond Reminisces Of Young Darrell Issa, Car Thief

A member of Issa’s Army unit, Jay Bergey, told Williams that his most vivid recollection of the young Issa was that in December, 1971, Issa stole his car, a yellow Dodge Charger. “I confronted Issa,” Bergey said in 1998. “I got in his face and threatened to kill him, and magically my car reappeared the next day, abandoned on the turnpike.”

David Frum Reacts To Sarah Palin's Interview

Sarah Palin's defense basically backfires, mostly because of what David Frum describes as a "self-aggrandizing" tone. Very perceptive!

It's tough trying to keep one's balance at the top. Like balancing on logs in a raging Alaskan river during flood season. Because Palin wasn't careful enough in the 2008 and 2010 election seasons with her gun rhetoric and her associations with candidates she was supporting who employed even stronger rhetoric, she was taken by surprise by accusations in the wake of Gifford's shooting. She blamed left media for those accusations, and she's lashing back, but Frum is correct: she needs to stop talking and stop trying to get even - she's only hurting herself further with confusing 'blood libel' talk. Palin needs to learn what she can from the mess and change the subject. That's what professional politicians do.

Monday, January 17, 2011

What Are You Doing?

I was quietly parked on a side street across from Target when a City Of Davis patrol car roared up from behind with colorful red-and-blue lighting effects and with spotlights ablaze. Two cops bearing bright flashlights approached on foot on either side of my car. Blinded, I rolled down my car windows to greet them....

The cop on the right asked: "What Are You Doing?"

I replied: "Um, uh, I got a phone call on my cell, so I parked here for a moment to take it."

"Oh," they replied. "We've had some trouble in this area lately and we just wanted to know 'What Are You Doing?'"

Right-Winger Jared Loughner

So, what is the status of that most-depressing American football game of the month - the Superbowl of Blame: pigeonholing Jared Loughner into the Left or Right side of American politics? Last we checked, it was an ugly scrimmage in the mud at the 50-yard line.

A commenter took note of my previous comment on my Sarah Palin post and replied:
"We don't know much about Jared Loughner yet, but I think time will prove he is on the Right. "

Time for you to eat crow - the foundation of your entire article has been thoroughly rended asunder in light of the recent info we've found about JL. About as far from Right wing as you can get!
Quite the contrary: the more we discover the more obvious the Right Wing connections get!:
According to a friend of his interviewed on Good Morning America on Wednesday, the conspiracy documentary Zeitgeist “poured gasoline on his fire” and had “a profound impact on Jared Loughner's mindset and how he views the world that he lives in.” He was also, according to his friend’s father, influenced by the documentary Loose Change, a classic of the 9/11 Truth movement.

...According to his friend, Zach Osler, Loughner “didn't listen to political radio, he didn't take sides, he wasn't on the left, he wasn't on the right.” Naturally, conservatives have seized upon this to exonerate themselves of charges of incitement. But it’s not that simple. ... Yet it’s the contemporary right, the right of Glenn Beck and the Tea Party, that has mainstreamed ideas from this demimonde in an unprecedented way.

...Both Zeitgeist and Alex Jones promote the idea that world events are controlled by a secretive banking cabal that is using debt to enslave us all. Zeitgeist echoes Alex Jones in warning that the United States is about to be merged with Canada and Mexico into a “North American Union” that will use a new currency, the “Amero.” ... “In the end, everybody will be locked into a monitored control grid, where every single action you perform is documented,” it says.

Zeitgeist, which came out in 2007 and has since spawned two sequels, is an Internet phenomenon. ... Its claims are heatedly debated on Ron Paul forums and anarchist websites; excerpts appear on numerous Tea Party pages. It has a global following:

...If you just watch the first third of Zeitgeist, you might think it comes from the left. It begins with an attack on Christianity, arguing that Jesus never existed, and that his legend derives entirely from pre-Christian cults of the sun. Calling Christianity “the fraud of the age,” it argues that the religion empowers those “who know the truth, but use the myth to manipulate and control societies.”

The idea of control and manipulation is the movie’s real theme, knitting together its disparate parts. Zeitgeist's second-third rehashes classic 9/11 Truth theories that purport to show that the attacks were actually an inside job. This was done, the final section argues, at the behest of a banking cabal that has repeatedly goaded the United States into war in order to solidify its wealth and power. Chip Berlet, a senior analyst at the think tank Political Research Associates and one of the country’s foremost experts on right-wing movements, points out that Zeitgeist borrows liberally from the G. Edward Griffin’s The Creature from Jekyll Island, an “expose” of the Federal Reserve System popular with the John Birch Society, Alex Jones, and some Tea Party groups. It also draws on ideas from the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, though it never mentions Jews.

...Loughner was caught up in the sort of conspiratorial fantasy Berlet was describing. His YouTube videos are often unintelligible, but in their moments of lucidity, they rail against manipulation of the currency system and the illegitimate power of the federal government, obsessions of the right-wing populist milieu. In this milieu, politicians like Gabrielle Giffords weren’t simply wrong, they were agents of an intolerable tyranny manipulating the economy and turning Americans into slaves. Hence the vitriol and intimations of violence that scared Giffords and her staff well before Saturday’s shooting.
There are other, more accessible hints that Jared Loughner is a right-winger. For example, in his sojourn around Pima Community College, he rails about PCC committing "genocide" against students. In a miserable moment of self-awareness, he also says PCC is preparing him for a life of homelessness (which is almost certainly true, considering his behavior). But where does "genocide" come from? That is an extreme exaggeration, akin to Hitler's "Big Lie" approach to seizing power.

Where else lately have we seen extreme exaggerations being used for the purpose of gaining power? The Tea Parties, of course! ("Death panels" anyone? "Socialist" Barack Obama? The menace of the "Far Left", meaning any motley assemblage of run-of-the-mill milquetoast liberals? And don't even get started regarding Glenn Beck!)

Jared Loughner heard these exaggerations, liked them, and learned to employ them himself for his own purposes.

And Loughner's other obsessions - grammar, currency, government control - all these are usually the interests of traditionalists or conservatives, and not liberals.

You can learn a lot just by listening to what a person says. No other special skills are necessary. He may not yet be firmly in one camp or another, but his drift to the Right is clear.

When the Right looks in the mirror, Jared Loughner's there, smirking right back....

"Chess" - Additional Pictures From Wednesday Jan. 5th Rehearsal

(I got distracted and never uploaded these. I have plenty more that I haven't even looked at yet....)