Monday, January 23, 2012

Obama and Solinsky. Again.

"My Grandmother, Mrs. Imre Zala, meets Finance Minister Győrgy Matolcsy"
It has been a slow month here in blogland. Hungary has been in the news in a big way, and as long time readers know, I tend to avoid discussions of Hungarian politics in this space. You want to hear my opinions about Hungarian politics? Take me out and buy me a few drinks. You will get an earful. But more to the point, other people do it better - check out my blogroll for Eva Balog's Hungarian Spectrum, or the newer Hungarian Contrarian and Andor Jakab's Blog. Paul Krugman has been examining Hungary's antic relationship with its new constitution via a series excellent posts by Princeton Proffessor of constitutional law Kim Scheppele. The Economist, Financial Times, and Washington Post have also kept our addled one-Party rulers in their sights. When you read the NY Times pieces, the Economist, or any of the other newspapers on stories about hungary, please do not fail to read the comments sections.They are infested by the uniquely Hungarian version of internet troll. Now, Hungary is not the only country that pays PR hacks to troll for stories and 'correct' them in the comment sections. But it is fun to watch the language-challenged Ministry of Propaganda hacks try and take down a Krugman or a Princeton Law prof by labeling them a "post-commie" or attacking them for causing Hungary's serious economic ills. Because in Hungary, propaganda is very big business. FIDESZ, the ruling party, is nothing so much as a gigantic PR machine, driving home its talking points wit a grim determination and a surprising lack of ideology. FIDESZ prospered in opposition due to its skillful use of public relations firms and advisors to drive a wedge into the Hungarian public opinion, dividing every conceivable issue as one of "Us vs. Them." It is all done with mirrors. Here is a secret: public relations is the enemy of democracy, folks.
The Father of Modern Public Relations
It was invented by Edward Bernays, a cousin of Sigmund Freud who emigrated to the US in 1892 from Austria. In his main work "Propaganda" in 1928 Bernays argued that the manipulation of public opinion was a necessary part of democracy: "The conscious and intelligent manipulation of the organized habits and opinions of the masses is an important element in democratic society. Those who manipulate this unseen mechanism of society constitute an invisible government which is the true ruling power of our country. ...We are governed, our minds are molded, our tastes formed, our ideas suggested, largely by men we have never heard of. This is a logical result of the way in which our democratic society is organized." Bernays was behind PR campaigns that convinced the American public that smoking was acceptable for women, that bacon and eggs was a healthy breakfast, that Calvin Coolidge was a nice guy, and that ballet was fun to watch. But beneath it all he was aware of the power that comes from lies. "PR must create news." wrote Bernays in his 1923 book 'Crystalizing Public Opinion'  "in order to appeal to the instincts and fundamental emotions of the public." If you have a few hours and want to spend them watching a highly disturbing BBC documentary about Bernays and his work, I highly recommend the three hour long "Century of the Self" on Youtube. Yes, indeed, it is all done with mirrors... no hay hay banda...Anyway, the reason I delve this far into politics at all was that I took a peek at my blog statistics and noticed a serious jump in readership in the last few weeks. Was it because of a sudden leap in interest in Hungarian politics? Looking through some of the clicks I found out that it was people searching for the name "Solinsky." Something even more silly and ignorant was to blame. The American Tea Party! Back during the 2008 presidential elections Sarah Palin accused Barak Obama of following the teachings of "Solinsky" - which was her addled attempt at conceptualizing the name of social activist Saul Alinsky. I posted a story about that. Tea Partiers were marching around with bumper stickers printed with the slogan "Solinsky=Communism." Josef Solinsky, however, was the name of a Klezmer violinist who recorded several rare Jewish fiddle pieces on gramophone records back in the pre-World War One era, all of which have become basic to the recreated style of traditional klezmer fiddle.
Not Josef Solinsky, either.
That story died back when Obama won the election and I thought the American looney right wing would never again become riled up with a long deceased Klezmer violinist. But I was wrong. Never underestimate the ability of the wingnut to run with wrong information. For days now, I have been getting up to 500 blog visits a day looking for information on this nefarious "Solinsky." So here he is, in the original: Josef Solinsky on the violin. And given that the US Republican presidential race is narrowing down to a contest between Obama and either a lying billionaire who believes that the Garden of Eden was located in Jackson County Missouri, or a guy who was cheating on his wife while he was trying to have President Clinton impeached for a blow job. I'm sticking with Obama. He's a lot more my style - a fly fisherman. And so is Solinsky, at least style-wise on the fiddle. So if you want to complain about my lack of comment on the growing crisis in Hungary, I hear you. If things hot up I may change that policy. But for now I will stick to what I know. Want to tell me I don't know about Klezmer fiddle? I don't think sooooo....(Oh, and trolls? The delete button anxiously awaits you. But you knew that.)


Anne Goldberg said...

You say „It has been a slow month here in blogland „...
Are you kidding me?!
It's the busiest month in the history of the blogosphere!
Millions of bloggers, an all continents, united together to initiate an unprecedented protest.
A huge number of websites, including the biggest websites in the world, followed suit.

The January 18 protests are being called, officially, the largest online protest in history.
More than 115000 sites participated in the general strike, including: Google, Wikipedia, Craigslist, Mozilla, Flickr, WordPress, Tumblr, Vimeo, Reddit...
Around the web, the silent and peaceful protests successfully encouraged tens of millions of netizens to sign various petitions:
Wikipedia said that more than 162 million people saw its “imagine a world without free knowledge” message.
According to Google, more than 7 million people signed petitions and over 887000 called the authorities to voice their concerns.
Twitter announced via a tweet that it had seen 2.4+ million SOPA-related Tweets from 12am-4pm ET.

Lawmakers and their aides acknowledged that the joint grassroots protest had overwhelmed Congress' infrastructure. The Capitol switchboard staggered through the day under a massive volume of calls. The websites of several lawmakers buckled and stopped working as a result of heavy traffic. And activists reported that they were unable to leave messages for their representatives due to clogged voicemail boxes.

Wikipedia posted:
„Thank you. You shut down Congress’s switchboards. You melted their servers. From all around the world your messages dominated social media and the news. Millions of people have spoken in defense of a free and open Internet. The internet has enabled creativity, knowledge, and innovation to shine, and as Wikipedia went dark, you've directed your energy to protecting it. We’re turning the lights back on. Help us keep them shining brightly.”

A slow month in blogland. Not.

Anonymous said...

Jon Stewart, the brilliant Jewish American comedian, offers the best explanation:

Anonymous said...

@Anne Goldberg
You're getting your blogiverse terms confused. 'Blogland' obviously refers to the principality of this blog only, where things have been slow, as opposed to happenings in the outer blogworld.

Bill Scalia said...

I'm very surprised by your statement about Obama (I'm sticking with Obama. He's a lot more my style).
On New Year’s Eve, most people were getting together to celebrate the New Year, but in Washington D.C., President Obama was busy doing something else. On Dec. 31, 2011, Obama signed the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).

American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) executive director, Anthony D. Romero has a blistering opinion:
“President Obama's action today is a blight on his legacy because he will forever be known as the president who signed indefinite detention without charge or trial into law! The statute is particularly dangerous because it has no temporal or geographic limitations, and can be used by this and future presidents to militarily detain people. The ACLU believes that any military detention of American citizens or others within the United States is unconstitutional and illegal. In addition, the breadth of the NDAA’s detention authority violates international law. We are incredibly disappointed that President Obama signed this new law even though his administration had already claimed overly broad detention authority in court. Any hope that the Obama administration would roll back the constitutional excesses of George Bush in the war on terror was extinguished today."

Obama signed into law a bill that eliminates one of the fundamental protections of the U.S. Constitution: the right for people not to be detained indefinitely by the government without being formally convicted of crimes.
The NDAA allows the government to hold anyone suspected of being associated with terrorism indefinitely, without any form of due process.
No indictment.
No judge or jury.
No evidence.
No trial.
Just an indefinite jail sentence.
In other words:
If someone in the government suspects that you're somehow associated with terrorism, you can be jailed indefinitely in a military prison!

The new Obama doctrine:
(Rachel Maddow, NBC)

Quo Vadis, America?
McCarthyism, Police State, Stalinism, Fascism... ?!?
A very sad day for democracy.

Chris said...

The Obama administration is pushing through Congress a new bill, the "Enemy Expatriation Act".
The Enemy Expatriation Act (H.R. 3166) was introduced in Congress by Rep. Jason Altmire (Democrat-PA), and Charlie Dent (Republican).
A companion bill was introduced in the U.S. Senate by Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT) and Sen. Scott Brown (R-MA).
The bills received overwhelming bipartisan support.

The Enemy Expatriation Act blatantly gives United States the authority to strip American citizens of their citizenship by just disagreeing with the government.
Protesting against the "war on terror", engaging in "hostile propaganda", etc, are are viewed as "material support" given to the terrorist organizations.
Similarly to the NDAA, the Enemy Expatriation Act has no real due process.
It's frightening!

Anonymous said...

Dumneazu, you fell for the oldest trick in the book!
It's the old Good Cop, Bad Cop routine.
A captive audience, only two sides to choose from, a sympathetic and charismatic orator pretending to be your friend...
Bush & Obama, Democrat & Republican, two sides of the same coin!
One hand washes the other, and together they wash the face.
All of 'em represent and serv the establishment.
Different ways to achieve the same goal.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps it was the presidency of that idiot Gyurcsany (who is a present commie, not a former commie) followed by Gordy's, that helped put Orban's party back in power.

For the record, I like your blog for its musical content, as well as for interesting articles from HU/RO. Keep 'em coming! It's all good.

- A right wing nutjob bracsas

Anonymous said...

Bacon and eggs IS a healthy breakfast.

Mirelon D said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Elle Romero said...

The best article I've read recently, is in the New Yorker:
"The accelerating rate of incarceration over the past few decades is just as startling as the number of people jailed: in 1980, there were about two hundred and twenty people incarcerated for every hundred thousand Americans; by 2010, the number had more than tripled, to seven hundred and thirty-one. No other country even approaches that. In the past two decades, the money that states spend on prisons has risen at six times the rate of spending on higher education.

More than half of all black men without a high-school diploma go to prison at some time in their lives. Mass incarceration on a scale almost unexampled in human history is a fundamental fact of our country today-perhaps the fundamental fact, as slavery was the fundamental fact of 1850. In truth, there are more black men in the grip of the criminal-justice system-in prison, on probation, or on parole-than were in slavery then. Over all, there are now more people under "correctional supervision" in America-more than six million-than were in the Gulag Archipelago under Stalin at its height."

Elle Romero.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Satomi Tanaka said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

Hey, people, have some perspective! He said Obama's a lot more his style, not that he was going to join the Obama campaign. If you would rather have Romney in charge than Obama, then don't vote; it's like giving a half-vote to the Republican candidate, who will definitely put more hard-right judicial activists on the Supreme Court, making whatever Obama has done (which is plenty) look like a harmless prank.

Anonymous said...

What exactly did Bajnai do that would drive anyone to vote for Fidesz? That logic, by the way, does not excuse you if you happened to be one of the ones who inflicted Orbán and his goons onto the Hungarian economy, dooming it to even worse shape than during the Socialists' corruption-ridden reign.

Costica Popa said...

Vote with your feet, man, what are you waiting for?!
Leave Orban, return to Obama...
Or go to Netaniahoo, or Western Europe, or some other decent place!
The iron curtain is gone, there's nothing holding you back.
Stop whining and do something about it !!!