Age-related Social Unrest, 2012 Edition

While we slept, something happened in Libya:

Libyan Islamist militia swept out of Benghazi bases
Hundreds of men waving swords and even a meat cleaver chanted “Libya, Libya”, “No more al Qaeda!” and “The blood we shed for freedom shall not go in vain!”
“After what happened at the American consulate, the people of Benghazi had enough of the extremists,” demonstrator Hassan Ahmed said. “They did not give allegiance to the army. So the people broke in and they fled.
. . .
Continuing to chant anti-Ansar slogans, the crowd, swelling into the thousands, moved on to attack a separate compound where the powerful pro-government Rafallah al-Sahati militia, safeguarding a big weapons store, opened fire on the assailants.

Something even more shocking this morning. The official New York Times editorial:

Voter Harassment, Circa 2012
This is how voter intimidation worked in 1966: White teenagers in Americus, Ga., harassed black citizens in line to vote, and the police refused to intervene. Black plantation workers in Mississippi had to vote in plantation stores, overseen by their bosses. Black voters in Choctaw County, Ala., had to hand their ballots directly to white election officials for inspection.
This is how it works today: In an ostensible hunt for voter fraud, a Tea Party group, True the Vote, descends on a largely minority precinct and combs the registration records for the slightest misspelling or address error. It uses this information to challenge voters at the polls, and though almost every challenge is baseless, the arguments and delays frustrate those in line and reduce turnout.
. . .
In 2009 and 2010, for example, the group focused on the Houston Congressional district represented by Sheila Jackson Lee, a black Democrat. After poring over the records for five months, True the Vote came up with a list of 500 names it considered suspicious and challenged them with election authorities. Officials put these voters on “suspense,” requiring additional proof of address, but in most cases voters had simply changed addresses. That didn’t stop the group from sending dozens of white “poll watchers” to precincts in the district during the 2010 elections, deliberately creating friction with black voters.
On the day of the recall election of Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin, the group used inaccurate lists to slow down student voting at Lawrence University in Appleton with intrusive identity checks. Three election “observers,” including one from True the Vote, were so disruptive that a clerk gave them two warnings, but the ploy was effective: many students gave up waiting in line and didn’t vote.
True the Vote, now active in 30 states, hopes to train hundreds of thousands of poll watchers to make the experience of voting like “driving and seeing the police following you,” as one of the group’s leaders put it.

Broken Lobes, Permanent Pitchforks

The demographics of the Tea Party is an oddity in that members tend to be better educated, wealthier, white men. Now to know why: life expectancy has dropped to 67.5 years for the least educated white men compared with 80.4 for those with a college degree or better.
Contrast this to the last great episode of unrest in America — Vietnam Draft Resistance back in 1968/69 — and it makes you wonder how this generation, plagued with heart disease and associated vascular dementia, will end its days.
Thoughts harden with the arteries. Living longer is not the same as living saner. Damage to the frontal lobes can result in serious compromise in decision making, including:

  • Increases Credulity for Misleading Advertising — Patients with vmPFC damage were (1) more credulous to misleading ads; and (2) showed the highest intention to purchase the products in the misleading advertisements, relative to patients with brain damage outside the prefrontal cortex and healthy comparison participants. The pattern of findings was obtained even for ads in which the misleading bent was “corrected” by a disclaimer.
  • Sociopathy In Dementia Takes Two Disparate Forms — “Changes to the adjacent orbital frontal cortex region may be critical, resulting in impaired control of impulsive responses to tempting situations. Affected patients have impaired automatic feedback from social cues, especially angry or aversive expressions,” according to Dr. Mendez, who is also director of the neurobehavior unit at the VA Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System.

This sort of research tells us that swaying a large segment of the ever-growing population of seniors is easier than ever — just print or shout whatever you want to get them worked up, because they will still believe and act on it long after the inevitable “retraction”.
For more, see how the Science of campaigning goes beyond fundraising: