Controlling the narrative

There is a tactic in political discourse (I use the term “discourse” loosely) of which we all should be aware: to drown out one’s opponents with a flurry of half-truths and false references to authority at a rate too rapid for the opponent to respond. This has the effect of discrediting the opponent, establishing one’s own credentials of knowledgeability, and re-casting the narrative to one’s own advantage.

This is a tactic ideologues use to destroy the opposition’s credibility. William Shirer described this tactic in detail, as practiced by both Nazis and Bolsheviks during Germany’s Weimar era in his “Rise and Fall of the Third Reich“. Saul Alinsky’s “Rules for Radicals” picks up on these tactics and we witness them used repeatedly by the Left in modern discourse. Witness the Mass Media’s handling of issues of the day. I am tempted to think Biden’s error- and falsehoods-rich debate with Sarah Palin in 2008 was a perfect example of this tactic but, then…Joe Biden is Joe Biden. The continued wilding of Sarah Palin today, however, is a deliberate strategy.

The fact is, though, many people do buy another’s assertions at face value and, until the advent of the new media, such assertions were very difficult if not impossible to refute. Most people are simply too busy with their lives to take time to research and document each claim and, as Mark Twain put it, a lie will make its way around the world while truth is still getting its boots on. It plays well against well-meaning conservatives’ commitments to truth, accuracy and fairplay, which forestalls rebuttals until the facts have been checked and referenced.

But refute it we must. Because if we don’t, it becomes cant (“No WMB found in Iraq” or “Sarah Palin is stupid”, for example). Cutting off debate only adds to their credibility (Alinsky: force them to adhere to their own rules). Although I believe this blog was exceptionally good at countering this tactic, I am not sure that we have found the optimum methods to counter a strategy that I have no doubt will will need to revisit again. There must be better ways of exposing the tactic for what it is. Any suggestions?

As the recent poster on this blog, “Zach”, explained on their website, the objective is to manipulate the narrative…not for one’s rhetorical opponents, but for the other readers. Their stated mission (read the interchange of letters in the “political worldview” article to which Zach repeatedly linked at their website) is to sequence visits to conservative websites in order to demolish and remake their narratives. I, for one, don’t believe this poster was working alone: the referenced answers seemed to disjointed, as if someone was feeding them links, and I soon suspected that we were being manipulated. The links and references provided in counter-argument to Zach were never addressed and the evasions were too slick. Other posters on this blog caught on as well that there was something wrong with these exchanges.  I also don’t think Zach anticipated the buzz saw treatment they got from so many highly learned members in Bookworm’s entourage (well done!). It would be interesting to know if there are other such teams operating in the blogosphere.

Zach recently indicated that it is time to move on. Now it will be another blog’s turn.

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Comments

  1. says

    For reference purposes. Here are Zach’s words on the blog article in question.
     
    Several people have asked why I bother to comment on so-called “conservative” blogs, such as Polipundit, many of whom make a claim toconservatism, but are, instead, decidedly right-wing.

    Well, when I come across a clearly false assertion that has not been refuted by others, I am often compelled to post a direct reply to that specific assertion. Just because a blog is clearly right-wing; many others, called lurkers, may read the posts without comment. Some may be young, or just unknowing. As such, I believe it is important to respond to false assertions, especially on high-traffic sites that purport to have influence.

    I also make the note that Zach didn’t claim what I said about China is untrue. He just used the normal Leftist thinking habit of attributing something bad to America when you mention somebody in the world doing bad things that the Left is ignoring. It’s a sort of mental tick. If they don’t want to think about China and human rights, they’ll just find a train re-route to America. It’s not that they care whether Chinese policies are truly as they are described, because it’s not a high priority item for them.

    But even if it was true that America nationalizes private property, who in America is proposing this “one authority” and this “expanded government power”? The Left, of course. So the Left uses their own sins in order to blame America, in order to divert the issue from subjects and nations that the LEft refuses to consider important.

  2. says

    The simplest explanation for why the Left approves or ignores Chinese policy on the matter of seizing private property is that the Left.. pretty much does the same things in their own backyard. So why would the Left criticize China for doing what the Left wants to be doing more of here in America?
     
     

  3. says

    Danny Lemieux: A better comparison would have been the U.S. SOTUS’s odious Kelo decision.

    China has modernized their laws concerning private property over the last generation, though they still don’t have as stringent of protections as most western nations (and have a serious problem with organized thuggery). Nevertheless, here is an example of a “nail house”. The owners turned down an offer of more than three million yuan.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Chongqing_yangjiaping_2007.jpg

  4. says

    On the issue of Owen, don’t misunderstand the scenario here.
     
    Neither Danny or the rest is utilizing Owen as an idol or fundamental pillar of faith on WMDs. There are 4 options when it comes to data analysis of different viewpoints. A is true and B is true. A is not true, B is true. B is true, A is not true. Both A and B are not true.
     
    Owen’s viewpoints fall into the A and B both being true. His views are true on top of the previous analysis done by conservatives on Iraq, which includes people like Danny.
     
    This serves the same purpose as collaboration between independent data sources or methodologies. When two people, totally independent of the other, both finds the same answer to a problem, using different starting points, methodologies, and tools, then it is a double positive confirmation that the answer is truly a solution to the problem. Rather than a false positive.
     
    Don’t misunderstand here. This is entirely different from taking Owen’s views and replacing your own (A) with his (B), such that A=B, and if B is true, then A is true. That would not qualify as independent collaboration. This type of identity function is trusting in faith alone to obtain the truth. Normally a Leftist conceit in the modern world.
     
    Btw, most people have no idea what they are talking about when they use the term “ad hominem”.

  5. Mike Devx says

    > I would add to what you said, Mike D, that we usually learn from each other. Just take two examples: Owen’s credentials regarding WMD, scientific issues and “China” shine through his commentary, as does Gringo’s re Latin American commentary. Their creds are are not in doubt for me.

    I agree.  I was wondering if Z “stepped away” for only about 36 hours, solely because Z lost control of the narrative.   Owen in particular used “appeal to authority”, playing Z’s game precisely in the same manner, and was absolutely devastating.  No possibly reply.  Therefore, Z went away, but only until Owen’s comments could get lost in all the noise, only to then reappear and assert control of the narrative again.  Perhaps.

    Zachriel, either you explicitly discussed controlling the narrative on your blog, or you did not.
    Which is it?  If you’re not sure you did, or you don’t remember, just say so.

  6. Danny Lemieux says

    A wonderful parable about Chinese /Government stimulus projects:
    Martin Friedman was touring a major Chinese public works project with his Chinese hosts. His Chinese hosts proudly showed how manual labor was using shovels and pails to move earth, thereby creating jobs for people rather than for equipment.

    “Then why not have them use spoons?” asked Friedman

    Ymar – it’s amazing to me how people feel obligated to criticize modern government policy on the basis of what happened hundreds of years ago. By that standard, all countries should be above criticism because we are all equally guilty. No doubt I should be held guilty because of the depredations of my Gaul, Viking and Germanic ancestors.

    But that’s not how double standards work, of course.

    By the rules of Leftist discourse, for example, Mexico is perfectly qualified to criticize the U.S. about illegal immigrant policies because the U.S. was not nice to Mexico back in the 1840s, irrespective of the inhumane and illegal ways Mexico treats illegal Central American immigrants that cross its southern border.

    We have already addressed th same double-standard with regard to the American Indians. If whites killed American Indians, that was bad. If Indians killed other Indians and whites, well….that’s OK, then.

    BTW – with respect to comments made on another thread, here’s a quick summary of the Mexican-American War:

    -Mexico declares independence from Spain, becomes a dictatorship.

    -Texas (Anglo and Spanish) declares independence from Mexico, becomes a Republic.

    -Texas and U.S. agree to merge.

    -Mexico says it will declare war.

    -U.S. says it will merge with Texas anyway and decides California livin’ sounds pretty good too.

    -Mexico attacks U.S. troops in Texas

    -Mexico loses war. U.S. kicks Mexico out of California and Southwest.
    -U.S. pays Mexico $18m compensation (8x what was paid for Louisiana Territory) for captured territories, so that Mexico can pay off its debts.

    -Mexico accepts compensation, completing the transaction.

    -New U.S. territories grow and prosper, Indians in new U.S. territories are treated better than in Mexico. Formerly “Mexican” families in U.S. territory, to this day, insist on being called “Spanish” Americans not “Mexican Americans”.

    -Mexico continues to slaughter and enslave Indians and quickly degenerates into civil war, corruption and poverty.

    -Mexico’s feelings are hurt. Especially when gold is discovered in California. They feel like victims.

    To Mexico, its obvious: U.S. stole all the good parts of Mexico…the parts with the big modern cities, universities, first-rate agriculture, highway systems, good police protection and high salaries and left Mexico with all the bad parts.

    Ergo, to the Left….it’s obvious: Mexico good, U.S. is just like the Nazis.

  7. says

    Danny, the Russians have this joke they put into their fantasy literature.
     
    You know dwarves like to mine right? So they have these dwarves mining in the Russian version of Tolkien’s world. And the King of Dwarves passes a law that says two handed mining picks are illegal to be made, distributed, or imported. Why are two handed picks illegal? Because they do 2X the work of a one handed pick, thus generating un-employment in the Kingdom of the Dwarves, where mining is the mainstay of the economy.
     
    The Russians have this joke because Russians are familiar with Communist “theory” as part of their cultural psyche.
     
    And so are Democrats.

  8. says

    Mike Devx: I was wondering if Z “stepped away” for only about 36 hours, solely because Z lost control of the narrative.  

    As explained above, some commenters wanted to return to more casual conversation. Meanwhile, we were summoned. Zachriel uttered thrice.  

    Mike Devx: Owen in particular used “appeal to authority”, playing Z’s game precisely in the same manner, and was absolutely devastating.
     
    An appeal to authority can be valid if certain conditions are met:
     
    * The cited authority has sufficient expertise.
    * The authority is making a statement within their area of expertise.
    * The area of expertise is a valid field of study.
    * There is adequate agreement among authorities in the field.
    * There is no evidence of undue bias.

    A proper argument against a valid appeal to authority is to the evidence.
    http://www.fallacyfiles.org/authorit.html
     
    None of those conditions have been met. Owen is not a recognized expert. He is making a claim contrary to the consensus of experts in the field. He refuses to provide specifics so that the claim can be verified. And he says he is not interested in making an argument, meaning he’s not interested in hearing any evidence that might contradict his stance. Hence, Owen is not making a valid appeal to authority.

    Mike Devx: Zachriel, either you explicitly discussed controlling the narrative on your blog, or you did not.

    That’s what *you* said, indeed, putting such words into quotation marks. No idea where you got the quote, and it is directly counter to the sense of what we have posted on the subject. We want to contribute positively to the conversation. Of course, things can be misconstrued, but thus far you have made a claim, and won’t support it when asked.

    Danny Lemieux: … decides California livin’ sounds pretty good too.

    That’s called imperialism. You want it, you take it. The question raised in the American Dominance thread concerned whether the U.S. ever dominated its neighbors. Obviously it did.

  9. says

    Isn’t it amusing that while Zach complains about what he calls conspiracy theories, he’s talking mumbo jumbo magical incantations about uttering it “thrice”? He might be barking up the wrong tree looking for that secret Witch’s Coven.
     
     

  10. says

    Don Quixote: Simple question, Zachriel, is/was Castro worse than Pinochet or not?

    Simple to string the words together, but not simple in nature. Both regimes suppressed dissent, killing many political opponents immediately after coming to power, thousands fleeing. Castro’s regime implemented universal literacy and health care, while Pinochet built up the economy by forging close ties with the U.S. Importantly, Castro’s regime is still there, while Pinochet’s regime is gone.

  11. says

    Zach’s attempting to differentiate between the “factual” nature between the two regimes, rather than the ethical or moral factor.
     
    For example, Zach attaches no ethical worth to Pinochet’s giving up power and Castro refusing to do so. It’s not that it is even to him, but that it is worth zero one way or another.

  12. Danny Lemieux says

    I admire what Chile has accomplished:
     
    Cuba literacy: 99.8%
     
    Chile Literacy: 95.8%
     
    Cuba per-capita GDP: $9,900
     
    Chile Per-Capita GDP: $15,500
     
    Freedom of Cubans to use their literacy to improve their lives: not much
     
    Freedom of Chileans to use their literacy to improve their lives: very high
     
    Reminds me….Napoleon also introduced universal education. What a great guy!

  13. Michael Adams says

    When Castro came to power, Cuba had the fourth highest standard of living in the Western Hemisphere.
     
    Surely no one would try to say that, now.

  14. says

    Cuba had a middle class that was growing. In order to loot the wealth that was being generated, people like Castro initiated their Communist revolution.
     
    If America had simply taken over the place after the Spanish-American wars, Cuba would be much better. And the US would have avoided nuclear missile crisis, obtained a couple of million productive citizens, and so forth. But due to people taking the advice of idiots, they let the Commies take control. With predictable results.
     
     

  15. Charles Martel says

    Danny, I’d take the per capita income for Cuba with a grain of salt. There is simply no such thing as a communist regime that reports data accurately, whether it applies to income, literacy, infant mortality, industrial and agricultural production, crime or educational levels.

  16. Gringo says


    I thought that Zach’s statement comparing Castro and Pinochet had its good points.

    While Castro gets all the publicity for health and education, Pinochet’s record is comparable and in some ways superior to that of Castro. For lack of time, I will confine myself to health.

    Some might say that Cuba’s having a life expectancy of 78.6 years, 5 years superior to that for Latin America, is a reason to praise Castro’s regime and to keep him in power. Maybe so. But how many people who trumpet that realize that for 1955-1960 a time which corresponds fairly well to pre-Castro Cuba, Cuba’s life expectancy of 62.4 years was 8.1 years better than Latin America? Castro inherited a pretty good health care system, with 1080 inhabitants per physician, a figure comparable to the US and Western Europe at the time.

    Cuba’s life expectancy has increased 16 years since Castro took over [1955-1960 figure]. While that is a good record, Latin America’s life expectancy has increased 19 years since then. It is not necessary to impose a totalitarian dictatorship to have good progress in public health. Latin America as whole, whatever its problems have been over the last half century, has had both greater freedom than totalitarian Cuba and greater improvement in health care than totalitarian Cuba, judging by increase in life expectancy.

    Infant mortality data changes depending on the source. The UN’s Economic Commision on Latin America, also known as ECLA or CEPAL in its Spanish acronym, has two different tables, one for five year averages [CELAD] and one for annual figures [IGME]. In many details they do not agree, but they do agree on overall trends.

    For a number of reasons it is appropriate to compare performance in health with the first 15-16 years of Castro’s rule with the Pinochet’s regime time in power. For one, the time periods are similar. For another reason, there appears to have been about a 15 year lag between the two countries. Life expectancy in Cuba for 1955-1960 was 62.4 years; it was 63.6 years for Chile for 1970-1975. Similarly, CELAD tables for infant mortality show Cuba’s to have been 69.9 for 1955-1960; Chile’s was 68.6 for 1970-1975.We get similar starting points, both for data and for the beginnings of the regimes.

    For 1955-1960 to 1970-1975 [CELAD table], Cuba’s infant mortality went from 69.9 to 38.5, an absolute drop of 31.4 and a percentage decrease of 45%. For 1970-1975 to 1985-1990, Chile’s infant mortality went from 68.6 to 18.4, an absolute drop of 50.2 and a percentage drop of 73%. Pinochet’s regime outperforms Castro’s regime.

    The IGME table at the ECLA website has annual figures for infant mortality. Castro’s Cuba lowered infant mortality from 45.2 in 1959 to to 25.5 by 1975, a span of 16 years. By comparison Pinochet’s Chile lowered infant mortality from 47.3 in 1976 to 25.7 in 1982, a span of 6 years.

    What makes the comparable performance of Chile’s health care system stand out even more is that Cuba had a lot more physicians. Cuba had 1080 inhabitants per physician in 1960. Chile had 1810 inhabitants per physician in 1973, and averaged over 2000 inhabitants per physican from 1973-1989. Pinochet’s Chile had a better record in reducing infant mortality than Cuba with fewer physicians. It did more with less.

    While Castro did not inherit a derelict health care system, neither did Pinochet. From 1955-1960 to 1970-1975, Chile’s infant mortality declined by 42%, a figure comparable to Castro’s Cuba of 45% for that time. From 1955-60 to 1970-1975 the gap in life expectancy between Cuba and Chile remained at about 6 years, indicating similar progress in life expectancy. You don’t need a totalitarian system to improve health care. From 1970-1975 to 1985-1990, life expectancy in Chile increased to 72.7 years, narrowing the gap  in life expectancy with Cuba from 6.3 years  to 1.9 years, indicating superior performance under the Pinochet regime.

    While there are some academics who are aware of Pinochet’s performance on health care- Nicholas Eberstadt is the first author who brought it to my attention- this information is not in the popular narrative about Pinochet.

    Pinochet entered and left with votes. The August 22, 1973 Resolution from the Chamber of Deputies was an invitation to a coup, as Allende said. The 1988 Referendum vote of NO led to elections, and the end of 16 years of military rule. Castro remains after 52 years.
     
    Chile was very fortunate to get a dictator as competent as Pinochet. Most dictators are competent only at repressing opposition, not at running an economy. Milicos [slang for military] take over thinking they can do better than the corrupt and incompetent civilians, and in most cases they are more corrupt and more incompetent than the civilians. Look at the record of of Chile’s neighbors in Argentina, Bolivia, and Peru. Not to mention Cuba.The man on horseback is not something that the US imposed on Latin America, but a long standing part of the culture. With  150 years of men on horseback preceding  a 40 year interval of democracy, Venezuela reverted back to the man on horseback, in the form of Hugo Chavez.

     
    Which reminds me of a joke from Guatemala about President General Lucas, perhaps Guatemala’s worst PG in the last 50 years. Who is the most constipated woman in Guatemala? The mother of President Lucas. It  took her nine months to have a bowel movement.

    1) Note: infant mortality is measured in infant deaths per 1,000 live births.

    http://www.eclac.org/estadisticas/bases/

  17. Danny Lemieux says

    Got it from the CIA Fact Book, CharlesM, which is probably the best-available public source for info.
     
    However, remember per-capita GDP is total economic output divided by population. It doesn’t say where the GDP output goes. It certainly is the case that the average Cuban receives very little of that GDP. Castro, on the other hand, is one of the world’s richest men.
     
    Pinochet didn’t loot his country’s wealth.

  18. Danny Lemieux says

    However, Charles M, you make a good point: data output is only as good as the quality of the data input. Same applies to life expectancy. We know they aren’t telling the truth.

  19. says

    A lot of college graduates wouldn’t be able to make the connection Danny made on the GDP numbers.
     
    They would look at the numbers and stop there, using them as a direct comparison of general status. It takes a deeper understanding of human affairs to realize that total wealth isn’t distributed evenly in a Communist dictatorship.
     
    If progressive revolutions are designed to make the economy better by redistributing wealth from the rich to social services, then the way the Left carries it out is putting the egg before the chicken. They are trying to solve problems that result from the existence of themselves.
     
    When pro-Obama care advocates arise, they can never answer why it is that the government is now given power to fix a problem that is the result of government machinations in healthcare. They either don’t answer, like most Obama care proponents, or they start talking about insurance companies or the millions of uninsured in America.
     
    “Choice” is only authorized by the LEft if you choose what they decide for you. In the case of abortion, it is many. In the case of insurance, it is “you better have it”.
     
     
     

  20. Charles Martel says

    “However, remember per-capita GDP is total economic output divided by population. It doesn’t say where the GDP output goes. It certainly is the case that the average Cuban receives very little of that GDP. Castro, on the other hand, is one of the world’s richest men.”

    Good point. It’s worth pointing out that communist countries are kleptocracies, where the ruling elite takes a huge cut off the top before letting those below have what’s left.

    As far as where GDP goes, in communist countries the military has an inordinate claim on the nation’s wealth. It’s estimated (according to Gorbachev) that the USSR spent about 20 percent of its GNP on defense, a percentage almost four times that of the United States. I wouldn’t be surprised that once the Castro brothers have fled, or been buried or properly executed, we’ll find out that Cuba was spending a like amount of its sustenance on the military.

    (But we must never, never ever forget that communists increase literacy—even though all you can read is commie crap—and access to some of the best veterinary-level medical care in the world.)  

  21. Owen says

    Just in case someone wants objective numbers on Cuban health and Cuban health care, albeit it slightly historical at this point, I did a study in 1996 on Cuban military readiness, focusing exp. on air defense.

    At the time, the Cuban military was reporting entire bases as out of action because of the incidence of serious disease. On several, the rate of hepatitis infection was over 30%.

    Cuban gov’t reports also stated that the proportion of children with serious vision problems resulting from vitamin deficiencies was almost 25%. The rates were highest in the countryside, as would be expected.

    It should be noted that this was a just a few years after Cuba stopped getting Soviet support and things were even worse than usual.

  22. Gringo says

    Here is a factoid which shows how Cuba has gone downhill . According to Renaissance and Decay,Cuba ranked 5th in the world in TVs per capita, at a time when TVs were the cutting edge in consumer electronics. Today, Cuba ranks 119 out of 204 countries in internet users per 100 people.
    Once when I brought this up in a lefty forum, the reply was that Cuba wasn’t into “consumerism.” This in an online discussion. Consumer goods are for me, not for thee. There  is a big internet cable  being laid between Venezuela and Cuba.  Here is how Cuba compares with Latin America.
     


    Jamaica 57
    Uruguay 40
    Colombia 38
    Brazil 38
    Chile 32
    Costa Rica 32
    Latin America & Caribbean 29
    Argentina 28
    Panama 27
    Venezuela, RB 26
    Peru 25
    Mexico 22
    Dominican Republic 22
    Trinidad and Tobago 17
    Guatemala 14
    Honduras 13
    Cuba 13
    Bolivia 11
    El Salvador 11
    Haiti 10
    Nicaragua 3
    http://www1.lanic.utexas.edu/la/cb/cuba/asce/cuba8/30smith.pdf Renaissance and Decay
    http://web.worldbank.org/WBSITE/EXTERNAL/DATASTATISTICS/0,,contentMDK:20535285~menuPK:1192694~pagePK:64133150~piPK:64133175~theSitePK:239419,00.html
     
     
     
     
     

  23. Owen says

    Gringo: One of the things to note about totalitarian states is tha they always have a lot of TVs. The perfect totalitarian state in one in which everyone has a TV, but no one has a phone — or an internet connection.

  24. Owen says

    Charles: I’m not current on this, but back when, estimates of what Cuba spent on its military were higher than 20% — 30% to 35% or more would not shock me. The Cuban military was heavy supported by the Soviets and when they pulled out, this burden fell on the Cuban gov’t, hence the much higher relative numbers.

    And since Castro legitimized his rule by playing up the constant threat of invasion by the US, military spending could not be easily cut, without sending the wrong message. Castro has kept Cuba on a war footing since he came to power, using that excuse to keep the people scraping by and hence easier to control.

    Over the years, this has lead to sick symbiosis between the Cuban Gov’t and some anti-Castro groups. The anti-castro groups needed to attack Cuba to show that they were doing something and were relevant — the Cuban Gov’t needed to be attacked to show the people they were under constant threat.

    This went on for so long that by the early 90s, the gov’t agents and members of anti-Castro groups were actually meeting regularly to arrange where and when and how attacks were going to take place.

    Very perverse political theatre indeed….

  25. Danny Lemieux says

    Charles M: (But we must never, never ever forget that communists increase…and access to some of the best veterinary-level medical care in the world.)
     
    Charles M, if I was a veterinarian, I would be offended.

  26. says

    Ymarsakar: For example, Zach attaches no ethical worth to Pinochet’s giving up power and Castro refusing to do so. It’s not that it is even to him, but that it is worth zero one way or another.

    This has been addressed several times, in conversations to which you were a part. It’s important that you make some attempt to understand the position so as to not continue to misrepresent it. Please do so.
     
    Danny Lemieux: Cuba per-capita GDP: $9,900.  Chile Per-Capita GDP: $15,500.

    Just throwing numbers up doesn’t lead to understanding. For instance, Cuba has been under embargo by its close and economically powerful neighbor for decades. Cuba and Chile started in different places, with the island nation having far fewer natural resources, and a much more troubled colonial history. Cuba lags behind other Latin American nations, but not radically so.
     
    Michael Adams: When Castro came to power, Cuba had the fourth highest standard of living in the Western Hemisphere.

    For some. But the situation was highly inequitable, poverty was endemic, and there were few political options for reform.
     
    Gringo: It is not necessary to impose a totalitarian dictatorship to have good progress in public health.

    Certainly not. In the long run, it is detrimental because new leaders may or may not continue the policies that lead to social progress. That’s why democratic societies work better — in the long run —, with institutions working at all levels in society.

    Gringo: Castro remains after 52 years.

    Castro is no George Washington.
     
    Danny Lemieux: Pinochet didn’t loot his country’s wealth.

    In 2004, a United States Senate money laundering investigation led by Senators Carl Levin (D-MI) and Norm Coleman (R-MN)—ordered in the wake of the 11 September 2001 attacks—uncovered a network of over 125 securities and bank accounts at Riggs Bank and other U.S. financial institutions used by Pinochet and his associates for twenty-five years to secretly move millions of dollars.
     
    Ymarsakar: It takes a deeper understanding of human affairs to realize that total wealth isn’t distributed evenly in a Communist dictatorship.

    Indeed. Income is much more evenly distributed in Cuba with a Gini Index that has dropped from 0.55 to 0.22 (1953 to 1986). In Chile, despite economic progress, the lower classes have actually lost economic ground.

  27. Gringo says

    Owen to Gringo:
    One of the things to note about totalitarian states is that they always have a lot of TVs. The perfect totalitarian state in one in which everyone has a TV, but no one has a phone — or an internet connection.
     
    I should have made it more explicit, that the 5th in the world in TVs per capita figure was from pre-Castro Cuba. Castro inherited that, as he  inherited the 1080 MDs per capita. While Castro certainly used the TVs for his propaganda, the high incidence of TVs did not come about from his rectifying a lack of TVs on the island.
     
    From 1960 to 2008, Cuba went from 3rd in telephone lines per capita in Latin America to 19th. This does not include cell phones, which today are ubiquitous in the Third World. Cuba ranks last in Latin America in cell phone subscriptions per capita. When you add landlines plus cell phones, Cuba is dead last at 13 per capita, compared to Latin America’s overall average of 99. [I will not add the link, but it is the World Bank link at my comment #77]
    Here is a factoid for all you Ubre Blanca [White Udder] fans. Ubre Blanca was the  high producing wonder cow which  Castro touted as the solution for Cuban milk production.


    Milk production % increase 1961- 2008
    Cuba 56%
    South America 317%
    Central America 352%

     
    Milk production , metric tons 1961
    Cuba 350,000
    South America 14,177,383
    Central America 3,138,423
     
    Milk production , metric tons 2008
    Cuba 545,500
    South America 59,093,460
    Central America 14,194,999
     
    The Socialist Wonder which talks about equal sharing cannot produce. Milk production increased a paltry 56% in a half century in Cuba, compared to milk production more than quadrupling in Central America and South America. Poverty is shared equally in Cuba, except for the Nomenklatura, of course. They get along quite well. Which brings forth a propaganda point about Castro and his useful idiots. When they talk about inequality outside of Cuba, they refer to the elites in those countries. When they talk about equality in Cuba, they exclude the Nomenklatura, which live much better than the rest of Cuba.
     
    How does the embargo explain the pathetic record of Cuba on milk production? After all, Fidel had Ubre Blanca. Was the CIA shooting cows? How does the embargo explain Cuba’s record on  phones? It isn’t as if the US were the only manufacturer of phones. The Soviet Union provided a very hefty subsidy to Cuba for 30 years, which should have provided any jump-start Cuba needed to transition from the US market. Currently Cuba may purchase food and medicine from the US. However, it must pay in cash. Given the way that Castro stiffs  his creditors, this is good policy. In 2009, the US was the fourth ranked exporter to Cuba, behind Venezuela, the PRC, and Spain. The US has been ranked fourth or fifth since 2004- do not see data before that. Cuba has trade with about 100 countries.
     
    This should provide some ammunition against the Castro apologists.
     

    [The phone data required some data processing, downloaded from a zip file.]
    FAO food production:
    http://faostat.fao.org/site/339/default.aspx
     
    Trade data:
    one.cu  with www in front [so it doesn't get held up.]

     
    Sector Externo Foreign sector
    8.6- Importaciones según país de origen de las mercancías por países seleccionados y áreas geográficas
    Imports of goods according to their country of origin in selected countries and geographical areas
     

  28. Gringo says

    Breaking up a blocked comment.
    Owen to Gringo:
    One of the things to note about totalitarian states is that they always have a lot of TVs. The perfect totalitarian state in one in which everyone has a TV, but no one has a phone — or an internet connection.

    I should have made it more explicit, that the 5th in the world in TVs per capita figure was from pre-Castro Cuba. Castro inherited that, as he  inherited the 1080 MDs per capita. While Castro certainly used the TVs for his propaganda, the high incidence of TVs did not come about from his rectifying a lack of TVs on the island.

    From 1960 to 2008, Cuba went from 3rd in telephone lines per capita in Latin America to 19th. This does not include cell phones, which today are ubiquitous in the Third World. Cuba ranks last in Latin America in cell phone subscriptions per capita. When you add landlines plus cell phones, Cuba is dead last at 13 per capita, compared to Latin America’s overall average of 99. [I will not add the link, but it is the World Bank link at my comment #77.]

  29. Gringo says

    Breaking up a comment, phase two.
    Here is a factoid for all you Ubre Blanca [White Udder] fans. Ubre Blanca was the  high producing wonder cow which  Castro touted as the solution for Cuban milk production.

    Milk production % increase 1961- 2008
    Cuba 56%
    South America 317%
    Central America 352%

    Milk production , metric tons 1961
    Cuba 350,000
    South America 14,177,383
    Central America 3,138,423

    Milk production , metric tons 2008
    Cuba 545,500
    South America 59,093,460
    Central America 14,194,999

    The Socialist Wonder which talks about equal sharing cannot produce. Milk production increased a paltry 56% in a half century in Cuba, compared to milk production more than quadrupling in Central America and South America. Poverty is shared equally in Cuba, except for the Nomenklatura, of course. They get along quite well. Which brings forth a propaganda point about Castro and his useful idiots. When they talk about inequality outside of Cuba, they refer to the elites in those countries. When they talk about equality in Cuba, they exclude the Nomenklatura, which live much better than the rest of Cuba.
    How does the embargo explain the pathetic record of Cuba on milk production? After all, Fidel had Ubre Blanca. Was the CIA shooting cows? How does the embargo explain Cuba’s record on  phones?[]see my previous comment] It isn’t as if the US were the only manufacturer of phones. The Soviet Union provided a very hefty subsidy to Cuba for 30 years, which should have provided any jump-start Cuba needed to transition from the US market. Currently Cuba may purchase food and medicine from the US. However, it must pay in cash. Given the way that Castro stiffs  his creditors, this is good policy. In 2009, the US was the fourth ranked exporter to Cuba, behind Venezuela, the PRC, and Spain. The US has been ranked fourth or fifth since 2004- do not see data before that. Cuba has trade with about 100 countries.
    This should provide some ammunition against the Castro apologists.
    Hope this will finesse the blocking. Final phase, I hope.
    http://faostat.fao.org/site/339/default.aspx Milk production
    Trade data from one.cu with www and the http thingy.

    Sector Externo Foreign sector
    8.6- Importaciones según país de origen de las mercancías por países seleccionados y áreas geográficas
    Imports of goods according to their country of origin in selected countries and geographical areas
     

  30. says

    Like I said before, wordpress has your comments but it’s not yet reached the system. It auto blocks 2 plus links. If you have one link and it isn’t going through, it’s called lag delay between servers.

  31. Mike Devx says

    Mike DevxZachriel, either you explicitly discussed controlling the narrative on your blog, or you did not.

    Zachriel: That’s what *you* said, indeed, putting such words into quotation marks. No idea where you got the quote, and it is directly counter to the sense of what we have posted on the subject. We want to contribute positively to the conversation. Of course, things can be misconstrued, but thus far you have made a claim, and won’t support it when asked.
     
    I apologize and withdraw the comment.  You’re right, I couldn’t find anything in your blog entries nor in your comments on your own blog that indicated that you deliberately sought to control the narrative.  I withdraw the comment and apologize.  If anyone else did run across such comments, then let me know, as I couldn’t find them at zachriel.blogspot.com  (where I looked).
     
    I use quotes around “controlling the narrative” because it has a meaning as a phrase: Using commentary not as a means of participation and honest argumentation, but rather for a deliberate and planned program of disruption.  If you are following the blogging rules that you once said on your blog (in the Clogging entry), then you’re not “controlling the narrative”.
     
    I had an image form in my head – on a moon of Jupiter, a group of five teenagers, with downbeat expressions on their faces,  file into the throne room and stand in a line before the throne, on which sits a wizened old Jovian.  One of them steps forward and says, “Master, we have lost control of the narrative on BookwormRoom.  We do not know what to do.”   Things went rapidly off the rails from there, including one teenager continually interrupting, “We need to go to the bathroom, and we need to go now!  The rest of Us do not seem to be listening to us!”   With teenager insults flying, and the Master banishing them to their rooms with a final admonition, “And no more World Of Warcraft until the next lunar cycle!”  But I decided the whole thing might be too close to ad-hominem, not worth fleshing out into comment satire.
     

  32. Gringo says

    Correction: in my comments #84 and #86, “telephone lines per capita”  and “phones per capita” should read “telephone lines per 100 inhabitants” and “phones per 100 inhabitants.”

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