Saturday, September 28, 2013

Dump The American Civil Liberties Union, Opponents of Democratic Self-Government Since At Least 1976

I am slowly making my way through a long article by Joel Gora,  law professor at the Brooklyn School of Law and one of the major ACLU lawyers who has been steadily undermining campaign finance reform since the mid-1970s.   I know, as if the billionaires don't have enough money to hire the hacks that are hacking democracy into splinters. The slow going is because I can only take just so much dishonest oligarchic empowering doublespeak in one sitting before my boiling point is reached.   The piece is published in the Howard Law Journal [ You can read it here beginning on page 763].

Figured I should catch up with what the ACLU was doing to attack self-government before the Roberts Court completely handed our elections systems over to the billionaires* and to the likes of Shaun McCutcheon.  And there is no figure who has done more on behalf of the billionaires than Gora.   Reading his article I am hard put to understand why he isn't considered as infamous and repugnant a figure as Roy Cohn or Rupert Murdoch.   Here is how he describes himself in a footnote on the first page.

I should also note that as an ACLU lawyer I helped challenge the campaign finance restrictions and requirements at issue in many of the cases discussed in this article, most notably, Buckley v. Valeo, 424 U.S. 1 (1976).

You would think that the man who was instrumental in allowing the demigods on the Supreme Court to turn money into speech, enabling the strongest force in lying to people in order to control politics would be widely vilified but, since he is associated with the ACLU,  my guess would be that alone would be enough for people on the left to respect him.  Well, I don't respect him because he has made a career trying to do what he has.   As far as I am concerned, he's at least as worthy of disdain as the Koch brothers,  Rupert Murdoch and all of those more public names.  No, he is more worthy of it because he was working under the prestige of the ACLU and with the slogan of "free speech" while making sure speech isn't free because it now has a monetary value embedded in it.   As I pointed out, by doing that you give more speech to those with more money and you dispossess those who have no money.  That has been the real world effect of Joel Gora's life work as can be seen in the total and absolute disempowerment of, first the destitute and poor and, increasingly, the middle class.   When you allow the richest to own information you allow them to dispossess us of the ability to cast an informed vote, the first and most important guarantee against despotism.  By allowing the successful selling of lies to an effective margin of voters,  you turn what should be a sacred act into one bound to produce government by the liars, for the liars and against The People.  That is the real result of the ACLU's participation in these issues.  That is why we have been suffering though the appalling series of administrations and congresses, governors and legislatures we have had since that fatal bicentennial year.

Gora and his fellow well tailored enablers of oligarchy hide behind a pretense in the form of instructive legal fables, leaving out the reality of the world as it really is.  There isn't enough George Soros money, used boldly and effectively on behalf of the poor and middle class that will effectively counter the combined forces of the super rich who 1. collectively own more money than the large majority of The People, 2. have shown no intention of doing anything but corrupting government to allow them to get even more of it through unillegalizing what they want to do, 3. are psychotically willing to even destroy the biosphere in order to do that.   Allowing Gora and the other enablers of oligarchy to pretend that Buckley vs. Valeo enables some heroic billionaire savior of democracy as much as the oligarchs is not something we are required to do.  We live in reality not in some Socratic fable discussed in a law class.  One of the foremost products of that teaching method seems to be to allow lawyers and judges and justices to avoid dealing with real life depending on the self-interested "what if" pretenses of alleged possibility that never seems to happen in real life.

I was brought up on all of the propaganda that the great and good American Civil Liberties Union told about itself and promoted.   I bought it for a long time.  The ACLU began to lose me exactly at the point of Gora's win in Buckely vs. Valeo. Finding out its role in that abomination was only the beginning of my total disillusionment with them.   It increased two years later with the ACLU role on the side of the Nazis in the Skokie case.  As a past contributor to them I suddenly realized that by giving them money my "speech" was going to support the "right" of Nazis to torture Jewish survivors of the Nazi rule in Europe,  on my behalf, the "Civil Liberties Union" was supporting the political organization and the propaganda of Nazis.  To put it mildly, I stopped giving them my "speech" to use that way.   I would very strongly encourage you to ask if you want to hand them your "speech" to promote things like the "citizens" of "Citizens United".

*  You can read what Gora and the ACLU are up to in this case coming up in the Court session that is just about to start.

But here is the brutal reality if the Court agrees with McCutcheon: Presidential candidates, House and Senate party leaders, and individual members of Congress could then form joint fundraising committees with national and state party committees and leverage contributions from individuals into huge sums to support their campaigns — maximums of more than $1 million for individual presidential candidates, more than $3.5 million for committees formed by congressional leaders, and nearly $200,000 for individual congressional candidates. We know, based on past experience, that presidential candidates, congressional leaders, and candidates would quickly spring into action to create the maximum number of joint fundraising committees and maximize the number of $3 million donors — and, of course, every candidate and office holder would know who was ponying up the amounts.

What if Congress then moved to outlaw joint fundraising committees (as if that could really happen!)? It would make the massive contributions a bit more cumbersome; donors (or their accountants) would have to write a lot of individual checks to individual party committees and candidates, instead of one or two big checks. The candidates and officeholders would still know clearly who had given the big bucks — and would open their office doors happily to them when they wanted or needed something from the government.

And as an example of the kind of willful unreality that the elite law schools teach their graduates to use to cover up their most self-interested lies:

Justice Anthony Kennedy, in his Citizens United opinion, made the astonishing assertion that unlimited sums spent “independently” of candidates and parties by corporations could not possibly have a corrupting influence. But Citizens United went out of its way not to make the same claim for contributions to candidates and parties. The corruption standard for limits on individual contributions undergirds Buckley and every major campaign finance decision since. Ruling in favor of McCutcheon would knock the pins out from Buckley and set us down a path to obliteration of all remaining campaign-reform limits.

In his confirmation hearing, John Roberts emphasized repeatedly that he would respect the previous decisions of the Court, would look to narrow the scope of decisions so that he could aim for 8-1 or 9-0 decisions instead of the frequent 5-4 divisions, and would bend over backwards to respect the role of other institutions, especially Congress. Citizens United demolished those pledges. A case brought on narrow grounds was abruptly broadened by Chief Justice Roberts and his conservative colleagues to include grounds that had never been initially asserted or briefed by the plaintiffs bringing the case, and the decision threw out one issued by the Court just a few years earlier, and effectively discarded decades of established law, jurisprudence, and practice over the appropriate role of corporations and unions in campaigns.

That is the corrupt, lying, corruptly perjured, real world that Joel Gora's and the ACLU's platitudes and absurd propositions cover up and depend on.   With their record in this line of cases they negate every amicus brief they might have ever issued for any poor defendant in their history, in reality as well as in fable.

Friday, September 27, 2013

The Maoist Roots of Al Qaeda Revisited

Mpost on Tuesday was too short.  I know people who read what I write are probably laughing now but I reconsidered it and think I jumped to my theme with too little preparation.

The article I was commenting on points out that Al Qaeda's own literature proves that they have been extensively influenced by the ideas of Mao and other allegedly Maxist, and so atheist political-military thinkers.  Contrary to stereotype the founders and leaders of Al Qaeda aren't parochial fanatics who see any thought but that of their branch of Islamic fundamentalism as unclean but are at least as able to do research and study history as secular thinkers in the west and, I'd say, seem to be somewhat more likely to consult their ideological opposites to see what they can usefully learn from them.   What serious attempt at a revolutionary movement wouldn't look at Mao and the winning side in Vietnam who defeat the greatest military power in the history of the world?  They've obviously learned more from that long and terrible war than the big thinkers and movers in the United States have.

It is the double bigotry of the racist establishment and the racists, both atheist and otherwise, who present Muslims as ignorant, fanatical religious fanatics - all billion and a half plus of them - that has set up the west for the disasters of the past and those which will, no doubt, come in the future.  When it comes to people in the Islamic world, most of us turn out to be Doug Feiths.

Of course this was bound to interest me since I've become something of a critic of the conventional atheist POV of what passes as an intelligentsia in the United States, Britain and elsewhere.   Looking long at things like that gives you a taste for the more bitter varieties of irony.   Considering how the Sam Harrises and Christopher Hitchens of fashionable atheism talk about Muslims, how their assertions sound like the worst of the old line racists of the 1950s and before and how those figures have been taken to the bosom of so many who believe themselves to be sophisticated non-racist members of some kind of left, commenting on the article was irresistible to me*.   I only wish I'd taken more time to develop my response to it.  Though this is a topic which isn't going to go away.

In order to defeat something like Al Qaeda it is necessary to really understand them and what they are doing.  The rather insulting and condescending appeal to racism to rally what elites believe are the ignorant masses,  exposing their own ignorance and racism in the process, precludes having enough respect for your adversary to see them as they really are, in all of their malignant intentions but, also, admitting that they are not genetically or culturally unable to think.   Muslims are presented in the American media, most often, as if they are some kind of dangerous animal.  That has been an ongoing effort in the west for centuries.   Among the people who like to think of themselves as the educated class I suspect there is a large component of self-congratulation involved.   Our educations seem to come with an over sized section teaching a satisfying and pleasurable assumption of superiority that reality doesn't justify.  If conceited self-regard built on the backs of the ignorant and inferior masses were true it would have worked out a lot better than it has.  One word, Iraq.   Another word, Vietnam.   When we don't learn from our own massive and horrible mistakes, who's being stupid?

*  The most influential strategic documents appear to be anything but religious in origin. For example, Al Qaeda strategist and trainer Abu Mus‘ab al-Suri wrote in his voluminous “The Call to Global Islamic Resistance” that one of the most important books on guerrilla warfare has been written by an American. That book, published in 1965, is “War of the Flea,” by Robert Taber, an investigative journalist who covered Castro’s operations in the late 1950s. The title refers to Mao’s often-cited analogy that guerrilla warfare is like the attack of a weak flea against a powerful dog. The flea first agitates the dog with a few bites, and then the dog attacks itself in a frenzy but is unable to kill the flea; as the bites multiply and other fleas join, the dog is weakened and eventually dies.

Taber’s book, a classic popular study of insurgencies, examines how guerrillas end up succeeding or failing in wars against overwhelmingly powerful enemies. The book’s title was translated into Arabic as, approximately, “The War of the Oppressed”; a more literal translation would be “the war of those thought to be weak.” The message is clear: If you feel weak, this book shows you how to be strong.

Except for history and military buffs, few Americans today read Taber’s book in English; similarly, few Al Qaeda terrorists would have read it in Arabic. But its lessons ended up embedded in Al Qaeda’s philosophy and insurgency campaigns. Al-Suri even recorded a lecture course on the book, and both the failed mid-2000s terrorist campaign in Saudi Arabia and the current war in Yemen bear its imprint.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

I'm Going To Be Taking Thursdays Off

I've got a really full schedule building up on Thursdays so I'm going to have to start taking a break from blogging that day.   Maybe another day too, but my schedule's still in flux.
Ted Cruz is 
The Cat Who's All Hat

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

The Amazing Stupidity of Ted Cruz

I haven't been one of those glued to Ted Cruz's grab for stardom so it wasn't until this morning that I hear him distorting one of the greatest works of one of America's greatest writers and artists, a long time and well known liberal-lefty,  Dr Seuss.

The idiot product of Harvard Law would have known how stupid and clueless using Green Eggs and Ham in his bid to stop Obamacare was if he'd done what we were all told to do in 1st grade READ EVERY WORD TO THE END OF THE BOOK.

If the widely declared genius had done that he might have read what happens when Sam I Am finally talks the grouchy nay-sayer into trying what he spent the entire previous book saying he didn't like.  

He found out that once he tried it, he liked it.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Schubert Erstarrung From Die Winterreise Two Hermanns, Two Interpretations

Hermann Prey and an unnamed piano player

Hermann Jadlowker with Bruno Seidler-Winkler  Piano  c. 1917-1918

Both of them were great singers.  Prey was a very great singer but  Jadlowker's voice was very unusually  fine and used with great artistry.   You don't hear tenors with such a dark, rich sound used with the flexibility of a real bel canto singer.  Hearing him live must have been a singular experience.  It's a shame there isn't more of him singing this repertoire on record and that the recordings were made in the low-fi period.       

Here's Hermann Prey singing Der Leiermann about as well as it's ever been sung.  


Is it Just Me Or Is Google Software Acting Up All Over The Place?

I've been having all kinds of trouble with Google based software, Gmail, Blogger, the browser.  Weird stuff going on.  

Maybe it's the NSA.  Maybe it's the advertisers.   I don't know which direction to point my paranoia in. 

Or maybe it's my dissing that Google doodle a few weeks back. The Empire Will Not Be Mocked!

The Maoist Roots of Al Qaeda

In an article by Michael W.S. Ryan published in Sunday's Boston Globe, he points out that a lot of Al Qaeda's theory and strategy seems to be derived, not from the Quran and the Haith but from Mao Zedong and General Giap.

Al Qaeda’s strategic foundations are laid out in a variety of documents written by its ideologues and trainers. Originally produced secretly for training recruits and as a legacy for future generations of jihadi guerrillas, the documents began to emerge in the early 2000s—published on jihadist forums, stored on commercial websites, or confiscated from terrorist safe houses and training camps by local police or military

What this body of work reveals might strike even informed readers as surprising. When it comes to strategy, close readings of the documents suggest that Al Qaeda draws its ideas less from classical Islam than from a broad array of sources in 20th-century guerrilla warfare, as well as older European and Chinese military strategists. Its books and articles refer to the ideas of Mao, Che Guevara, Regis Debray, the Vietnamese strategist General Giap, Fidel Castro, and even the somewhat obscure Brazilian urban guerrilla Carlos Marighella. They are secular and analytic, and do not rely on religious arguments as a detailed guide to action.

To study Al Qaeda’s strategic literature is to realize that we should understand it primarily as a new type of revolutionary group—one that is, in fact, less classically “Islamic” than Maoist. It is a modern ideology built on Al Qaeda’s distorted version of Islam, one that is rejected by mainstream Islamic scholars. And this deeper understanding may give us new tools in what is shaping up to be a long fight against Al Qaeda’s influence.

Which forces the question, does the anti-Islamic, openly racist propaganda campaign launched in the wake of  9-11 not play into the hands of  the people who attacked the United States?   Not to mention the two wars that resulted, especially the one in Afghanistan which was a long shot, based on the history of foreign invasions of that country.  If the Soviet Union, sharing a common border with it and without having to worry much about an anti-war movement to restrain its response, it is absurd to think that an aggressive war would do it.  The American mind, trained by movies and fiction, has been misunderstanding all wars as being WWII.  It's obvious that the people who were planning Al Qaeda didn't make that mistake any more than the North Vietnamese government did in the 1960s and 70s.

We have payed an enormous cost for racism and bigotry over the course of our history and a lot of that cost has been through the attempts of elites to use that racism and bigotry to their own ends.  I won't go over those, they are as obvious as the corporate media's attempts to use Barack Obama's race and middle name to win elections.

In this case, the anti-"Arab", generally anti-Islamic branch of that vine has the potential to destroy us.  I have no doubt that the racism of Cheney and his band of neo-cons allowed them to ignorantly underestimate the intelligence and dedicated perseverance of what are, essentially, nationalist groups.  It's a repeat of the Western mindset that allowed it to deceive itself about national liberation movements which produced Mao and General Giap and the others on that list of works cited by Al Qaeda.

One of the more interesting things about this from a liberal view point is the use of 9-11 in anti-religious bigotry.   There is Sam Harris whose flagrant racism and bigotry knows no bounds and it has made him a rich man.  Following on that are other figures in new atheism, one of the most sleazy and massively hypocritical is the late Christopher Hitchens who went from Trotsyite to Bush II invasion supporter. They stirred up a large amount of bigotry that is exposed regularly in allegedly lefty venues, though I would say that the presence of that bigotry is a definitive refutation of a person's or venue's genuine liberalism.  It is a disproof of it.   If you changed the names called and the used what gets said in white supremacist, neo-Nazi circles.  It's especially ironic among those whose anti-religiosity falls in line with old-left, vaguely Marxist and anarchist rhetoric. In my time the ideological predecessors of those who slam Al Qaeda and pin them to all of Islam and all religion, generally, supported and venerated the same thinkers that inform Al Qaeda today.

A lot of the religious trappings of Al Qaeda are exactly the same kind of cynical use of religious language and appeal is exactly the same kind of thing that the Republicans have used in the United States.  The entire thing is all about political power and economic control among people to whom nothing is sacred, nothing beyond exploitation, no one beyond exploitation.   And there is nothing religious about that, it's an entirely secular thing.  Anyone who believes that Bush and Cheney have any real religious motivation are as foolish as the poor dupes that Al Qaeda ropes in to do the killing and get killed. In the run-up of their attack, a number of the 9-11 hijackers, including Mohammed Atta, went out partying at strip clubs.  I'm unaware of any aspect of Islam that would countenance that.   Or any traditional understanding of any of the other Abrahamic faiths. All of which forbid the killing of innocent people in a way that Sam Harris and Christopher Hitchens and atheism do not.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Response to a Deleted Comment

More on the Virtue of Moral Relativism

Remember just over a week ago when I wrote about the Celebrity Atheist New Flavor of the Season Stephen Fry?   Remember when I gave the stirring battle cry repeated over atheist blogs and websites everywhere that includes this passage?

...they [The Catholic Church] try to accuse people like me who believe in empiricism and the enlightenment of somehow what they call moral relativism as if it's some appalling sin whereas what it actually means is thought... 

I remembered it while reading the latest very important but horribly depressing post by Chris Hedges when I came to this passage:

“I killed every Chinese I saw,” Congo remembers as he tours the Chinese area of Medan in a car. “I stabbed them all! I don’t remember how many, but it was dozens of Chinese. If I met them, I stabbed them. All the way to Asia Street, where I met my girlfriend’s dad. Remember, I had two motives: crush the Chinese and crush my girlfriend’s father, so I stabbed him, too! Because he was Chinese too! He fell into a ditch. I hit him with a brick. He sank.”

“Killing is the worst crime you can do,” says one of Congo’s former associates. “So the key is to find a way not to feel guilty. It’s all about finding the right excuse. For example, if I’m asked to kill somebody, if the compensation is right, then of course I’ll do it, and from one perspective it’s not wrong. That’s the perspective we must make ourselves believe. After all, morality is relative.”

The post is about the documentary “The Act of Killing,” by Joshua Oppenheimer, the part about the American backed genocide campaign in Indonesia, Oppenheimer interviews those who did the actual killing. You can see from the excerpts from the interviews, lots of thought has gone into the planning, training, framing and justification of the mass murderers.  

Congo patiently explains to Oppenheimer his technique of garroting his victims with a piece of wood, a pole and wire, a technique he adopted to avoid the mess of excessive bleeding.

And they are sharing their thoughts with younger generations of potential mass murders.

There is a scene in the Oppenheimer film where Congo—who parades across the screen like a prima donna, his outsized vanity and love of fine clothing on display—is interviewed on “Special Dialogue,” a program of a state-owned television station with national coverage. I have substituted the word “Jew” for “communist” to put the moral bankruptcy of the Indonesian regime into a cultural context better understood by Americans.

“We had to kill them,” Congo, wearing a black cowboy hat adorned with a gold sheriff’s star, tells the female host.

“And was your method of killing inspired by gangster films?” she asks.
“Sometimes!” Congo says. “It’s like. ... “

“Amazing!” she says. “He was inspired by films!”

The audience, mostly made up of members of the Pancasila Youth in their distinctive orange and black shirts, applauds. At the start of the show, Ibrahim Sinik, a leader of the paramilitary group, lauded the Pancasila Youth as having been “at the core of the extermination.”

“Each genre had its own method,” Congo says. “Like in Mafia movies, they strangle the guy in the car, and dump the body. So we did that too.”

“Which means Anwar and his friends developed a new, more efficient system for exterminating Jews,” the woman says enthusiastically, “a system more humane, less sadistic, and without excessive force.”

Obviously, moral relativism isn't only for celebrity Britatheists who went to Cambridge and are supplementing their career on the movies with a sideline of peddling hatred of a quite similar kind.

I am seriously worried about Chris Hedges who seems to have taken more of the horrors of the world on his shoulders than anyone can carry.  But his post should be read by millions more who would have some hope of stopping some of this from happening again.   He makes it entirely relevant to today's issues, no doubt knowing that those already murdered as best honored by preventing recurrences to the extent possible.

These same human bonds, along with the same schizophrenic self-delusion, can be glimpsed in photographs of off-duty Nazis in the book “Nein, Onkel: Snapshots From Another Front 1938-1945,” or in the photographs of off-duty SS camp guards at Auschwitz. One of the pictures in the Auschwitz album shows the SS leadership, including the commandant of Auschwitz, Rudolf Hoess, and Dr. Joseph Mengele, who carried out inhuman medical experiments on children, in a raucous “sing-along” on a wooden bridge with an accordion player at Solahutte, an SS resort about 20 miles south of Auschwitz on the Sola River. Mothers and children not far away were being gassed to death, some of the 1 million people murdered at Auschwitz. And it is this disquieting moral fragmentation, this ability to commit mass murder and yet to see oneself as a normal, caring human being, that Oppenheimer astutely captures. The bifurcation between work and life—a bifurcation that many in the U.S. military, today’s fossil fuel or health insurance industry or Wall Street firms such as Goldman Sachs also must make—allows human beings who exploit, destroy and kill other human beings to blot out much of their daily existence.

Only, first, we'd have to get past the stupid and appallingly irresponsible fad for yelling "Godwin's Law", in itself a tool for avoiding thinking about these things in terms relevant to what we're doing today instead of the past which is beyond our help.

After Not Sleeping On It We Should Put Up or Shut Up in Shame

Didn't get much sleep last night so I had lots of late night thoughts.  One was about that proposal I made concerning textbooks and the periodic group whine that goes up all over the left about how "Texas" used their purchasing power to slant the textbooks used across the country.  

I'm going to issue it as a challenge to all of the college professors, instructors, assistant instructors, high school teachers etc. who have whined and will whine about the right-wing power play.  Put your keystrokes where your .... whiny comments are.    If there isn't an organized effort to produce the most excellent e-textbooks possible, including all of the most up to date, effective teaching methods, hypertext links, etc, regularly updated and maintained, and, most important for its effectiveness, made available for free we should all collectively shut up in shame over our hypocrisy.   If they announced their effort and produce the most excellent possible texts and programs and provided them to public and private schools and just ordinary people for free, they could corner the market by leaving the market. 

If my specialty were a hot topic of contention, I'd participate in the effort and I might do a bit in that way in the near future. But professional biologists, historians, specialists in civics and other topics subjected to this kind of ideological distortion should prove how concerned they really are instead of getting into the perpetual whine and the totally useless and time wasting but oh-so-satisfying exercise in mutual self-congratulations on our mutual smartness as compared to them while being massively stupid about it. 

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Schubert - Abschied

Werner Güra, Tenor
Christoph Berner, Piano

Sung at a pretty brisk tempo that I really like.

Score    C Major (Anyone else suspect he's singing it in a higher key?)

The Answer To Political-Ideological Pressure on Textbook Publishers Is To Bypass Them

Ah, the perennial struggle for control of the integrity of Science vs Texas State Textbook Committee is underway again.  You can read about that here if you've missed the earlier rounds that have been pretty much in rerun for decades.

While there might not be a single solution to the problem of right-wing pressure to distort reality in textbooks, effecting the entire country, one is as easy as can be and it would cost little to nothing.

All of the educators and members of university and college faculties who periodically bemoan this have it in their power to create excellent, modern, hyper-text linked, interactive, etc. alternatives to textbooks that could be made available universally a for free online.   They could be made so good, so up to date, so well supported that school districts and teachers would want to use them as an alternative to buying expensive, ideologically slanted, soon antiquated paper textbooks.  They could then use their textbook budgets to provide tablets or notebook computers to their students who would then never be able to claim they left their textbook at school.   Those could be produced by groups of specialists in their fields for free, what Wikipedia should have been but isn't due to its absurd "open editing" that is guaranteed to be as ideologically slanted as anything the most rabidly right-wing party in the struggle for Texas textbook purchasing would love.

So, instead of listening to the tedious whining on the blogs and in the lefty magazines, it's time for these people to put up and put the same kind of effort into a real solution to the problem that they'll put into whining about it.  Make it excellent, easy to use, well supported and updated, BRILLIANTLY EDITED and FREE and you can't lose.

Risking Losing Readers It's Time To Ask The Question Is Apple a Cult?

I have used Apple hardware before and will admit it tends to be very well made and planned out.  I could criticize the flimsy charger cords that seem to be designed to break frequently and cost, literally, ten times the generic replacement cord for my non-prestige lap top but in some ways the hype is nearly matched with performance.   And I can also point out that the time I've spent with tech support for the PCs I've used the entire time I've used computers isn't any more than Mac users I know. And, to the theme of this post, I have absolutely no brand loyalty to any of them.  I'd have no problem replacing the computer I've used with one from another company,  at one time I was seriously considering buying a Mac mini - it was the lack of a CD burner that made me decide against it. 

The spectacle of people waiting in line to be the first to buy the latest shiny new toy from Apple, it's latest  iPhone is crazy.   I strongly suspect that a lot of them are the kind of people who would start with snark about people the smart set deems to be superstitious and ignorant, the ones who will drop the accusation of "woo" faster than their latest model Mac will boot.  

I'd thought that once iGod, Steve Jobs, died and was safely discredited as a pretty awful creep by his official biography some of this would decrease.   And some of it does seem to have diminished a bit.  A lot of the cult-flavored Apple-Mac-iCargo cult was bound up in his phony, constructed persona.  But for a lot of people who would scoff at the idea of religion, it is religious.   One couple I know are true believers in the Apple religion and their children have learned it from the time of their birth.  Their faith in Apple is one of the strongest aspects of their identity.  I teased one of the parents - who was complaining about the high cost of replacing those flimsy chargers - about the consequences of buying a Windows based product.  I really think it would cause problems in the family.   It might lead to a divorce or alienation of the children.  Which is just sick.   There used to be Ford and Chevy families when I was growing up but I doubt it was really as bad as this is.  This is worse, it's almost as bad as devotion to sports teams. 

Best thing I ever heard on this topic was said during the week after iGod died and before his scandalous biography came out.  While the Jobs devotees were snarking against Bill Gates as opposed to iGod, someone said,  "Oh, yeah because providing you with your shiny new toys is SO MUCH more important than curing malaria in Africa."   I wish I'd made a note of who it was who said it because it deserved to be the last word on that topic.