Category Archives: RAND Corporation

The Pencil Today:

THE QUOTE

“More things in politics happen by accident or exhaustion than happen by conspiracy.” — Jeff Greenfield

BRIGHT LIGHTS, BIG SKY

Heads up for another cool sky show tonight.

The annual Leonids meteor shower will peak tonight after midnight. Look toward the constellation Leo when it rises and, if you’re lucky, you’ll catch ten or a dozen shooting stars and hour. The apparent origin point of the shower will be smack dab in the middle of the question mark formed by the lion’s head. That bright star at the base of the question mark is Regulus, known as “the lion’s heart.”

This should be a terrific year for viewing the shower because this sky is expected to be clear and the moon will be a sliver.

So turn off your TV, bundle up, and watch that sky.

MAD MEN

A hat tip to Professor Richard Lloyd of Vanderbilt University for pointing out this one in Salon.

Republican state senators in Georgia held a meeting a month ago to discuss the maddest conspiracy theory yet. Apparently, the GOP legislators believe President Barack Obama is using advanced brainwashing techniques to turn Americans into pliant sheep so that he and the United Nations can take away private property rights, depopulate the suburbs, move everybody into the cities, and otherwise turn this holy land into some kind of dystopia straight out of a cheap science fiction novel.

Svengali

Again, this is not an Onion article. It’s no joke. I get the feeling I’m going to have to get used to typing that line as time goes by in this, Obama’s second term.

Here’s the dope from the dopes:

The United Nations has an action plan called Agenda 21, created 20 years ago during the Rio global environment conference. It deals with sustainable development, which the sane among us dig, but the psychologically disturbed see as some kind of an Hitlerian/Stalinist plot to enslave us all.

Agenda 21 is a non-binding, voluntary program that most countries of the world, even these United States, at least pay positive lip service to. The Georgia senators, on the other hand, see things differently.

It’s a “conspiracy to transform America from the land of the free to the land of the collective.” So says a man named Field Searcy, a former Tea Party honcho (that figures) who was booted from the party because he seemed a tad, shall we say, deranged.

If you’re considered deranged among Tea Party-ists, you are deranged indeed.

If This Guy Thinks You’re Nuts….

Searcy led the meeting which was called by Georgia Senate Majority Leader Chip Rogers, who bills himself the “taxpayers (sic) best friend,” and was held at the state capitol. So this is no secret cabal getting together under cover of night in some dank basement.

Anyway, Obama’s using a something called the Delphi technique to control the innocents of our nation. It was developed during the Cold War by Project RAND (later known as the RAND Corporation) and it has something to do with making behavior forecasts utilizing the collective thinking of a group as opposed to the wildly divergent thinking done by individuals. How this becomes a nefarious thought control tool is not explained by Searcy et al.

Searcy and his fellow dementos believe municipal, county, and state governments are in on this plot along with the commies, brown people, and Muslims of the UN as well as the chief destroyer of America, Obama himself.

According to political reporter Jim Galloway of the Atlanta Journal Constitution, a videographer recorded the first hour of the meeting and then was kicked out of the room. The logical conclusion is that subsequent discussion must have been even more batty than that recounted here.

I suppose if certain anti-Obama-ites have their way and do indeed secede from the union, they should call themselves the United States of the Cuckoo’s Nest.

AUSTERITY, NO

Amy Goodman of Democracy Now! writes in Truthdig that the movement against austerity measures is gaining ground all across the globe.

This news makes me feel a bit better after writing the previous story.

Thanks, Amy

It seems the reelection of Barack Obama and the repudiation of so many Republican candidates a week ago Tuesday is our nation’s little way of rebelling against austerity. Sure, some young people took to the streets for a few months in the Occupy movement of 2011 but, honestly, that had about as much effect as tossing an LSD tab into a big city’s water supply in hopes of turning the populace on.

Most of the American citizenry believe money should remain safely in the hands of the uber-wealthy, no matter what folks say about raising taxes on the rich. Not so elsewhere in the world. We fetishize the plutocracy; the rest of humanity looks upon the Midas class properly, as one would a mobster making you an offer you can’t refuse.

How else would you explain the popularity of Donald Trump?

Execrable, Albeit Explainable

APPROPRIATELY NAMED

The Pencil Today:

THE QUOTE

“I got my head bashed in at a demonstration against the Vietnam War. Police were losing control because they were up against a world they really didn’t understand.” — Terry Gilliam

AND THEN THERE WERE TWO

Gotta tell ya, folks, I hate to see Little Rickey Santorum go, for the loss of his entertainment value alone.

Now the presidential race is down to two politico-economic fraternal twins, each of whom is about as exciting as a can of beige paint.

Definitely Not Beige

If it wasn’t for guys like Santorum, I’d have to actually take the Republicans seriously and you know how disconcerting that prospect would be for me.

Digging the Santorum campaign was like having a daredevil hobby — bungee jumping off tall bridges, say, or rowing across an ocean. Exciting, sure, but if things go wrong, you’re screwed.

In this case, the worst-case scenario would have been a Santorum presidency

So, bye-bye Rickey. We knew you all too well.

A SIMPLE QUESTION

Does it surprise anyone that the first media creature George Zimmerman has spoken with is Fox News’ Sean Hannity?

Sympathetic Ear

DANIEL ELLSBERG, PATRIOT

I missed this. Saturday, April 7th was Daniel Ellsberg‘s birthday.

You want a hero? You got him.

Ellsberg

Here’s the story of Ellsberg’s heroism as told by Howard Zinn in his compelling graphic narrative book, “A People’s History of American Empire.”

Zinn and Ellsberg became friends in 1969 during the anti-war movement. Ellsberg earlier had worked for  the RAND Corporation, which was assigned by the US Department of Defense in 1967 to write up a history of the Vietnam War. Ellsberg actually did much of the grunt work researching this nation’s involvement there.

He learned that President Harry Truman authorized the funding of France’s colonial war against Vietnam independence fighters as far back as  the 1940s. President Dwight Eisenhower in the 1950s threw US support behind Vietnam strongmen who opposed free elections in that country.

Throw in a pile of other falsehoods, exaggerations, forgeries, and intentional inaccuracies on the parts of generals and politicians executing the slaughter in Southeast Asia, and Ellsberg understood that our stated aims there were a colossal sham.

Thanks to the study, Ellsberg saw that President Lyndon Johnson’s assertion that the North Vietnamese had started a war just for kicks in the summer of 1964 was an out and out lie.

Johnson, see, had said some North Vietnamese in a little motorboat had attacked a couple of American cruisers just sitting in the waters of the Gulf of Tonkin and minding their own business. Johnson parlayed this whopper into getting Congress to sign him a blank check and the next thing you knew, a half million American soldiers were fighting for who knows what in Southeast Asia.

Johnson, Finally Grasping What Vietnam Had Become

Ellsberg and some other RAND researchers privately agreed that they had to say something to the American public about our country’s shenanigans in Vietnam.

They figured Middle American folks would trust them, sub-contractors to the Pentagon with 7000 pages of damning documents in their hands, rather than wild-eyed hippies carrying peace placards.

So they sent a letter to major newspapers around the country calling for an end to the war. The New York Times and the Washington Post both published the letter, but nobody really gave a damn about it.

Meanwhile, the United States military went on happily killing and bombing in Vietnam. Then there was a Green Beret murder scandal and the My Lai Massacre. Ellsberg already was wracked with guilt for his country over what he knew and these atrocities only pushed him over the edge.

Destroying The Town In Order To Save It

He contacted another former RAND colleague and together they photocopied the 7000 pages with the goal of releasing the classified documents. The two agreed it was worth going to jail for exposing government secrets if it might shorten the war somehow.

Their hope was the release of the papers would turn even the most die-hard patriots against the war. They contacted the offices of a few congressmen and found no one willing to touch their hot docs.

Finally, they went to the New York Times with their bundle of papers. After a few months, the Times went ahead and published what would become known as the Pentagon Papers. Ellsberg was charged with theft and violations of the Espionage Act. He faced 115 years in prison. He turned himself in to the FBI in Boston on June 28, 1971, after having run off many more copies of the Papers and distributing them to other newspapers.

Setting The Type For The New York Times Pentagon Papers Edition

While Ellsberg was on trial, it was learned that the Nixon White House had ordered mugs to burglarize his psychiatrist’s office in hopes of finding incriminating notes against him there, and other mugs to harass him at public appearances. The federal judge declared a mistrial in Ellberg’s case due to these government interferences.

He was lucky.

He was also, as I mentioned earlier. a hero.

FOR WHAT IT’S WORTH

The Buffalo Springfield played this song on the Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour, February 26th, 1967.

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