civics (107)

Fifth-Column Fascists...

Topics: Civics, Civil Rights, Existentialism, Fascism, Human Rights, Propaganda

Note: I will be attending the funeral of my brother-in-law. I will take a blog break to mourn.

[A] fifth column, clandestine group or faction of subversive agents who attempt to undermine a nation’s solidarity by any means at their disposal. The term is conventionally credited to Emilio Mola Vidal, a Nationalist general during the Spanish Civil War (1936–39). As four of his army columns moved on Madrid, the general referred to his militant supporters within the capital as his “fifth column,” intent on undermining the loyalist government from within.

A cardinal technique of the fifth column is the infiltration of sympathizers into the entire fabric of the nation under attack and, particularly, into positions of policy decision and national defense. From such key posts, fifth-column activists exploit the fears of a people by spreading rumors and misinformation, as well as by employing the more standard techniques of espionage and sabotage. Source: Britannica.com

When I saw this, it was usually on a UHF channel after school. The subtle racist trope against Japan happens at the 2:42 mark, tarnishing its brilliance. (In light of our current appeal to diversity, equity, and inclusion, I'm preparing you for the shock.) The cartoon was produced in 1943, and the stated Axis powers were Germany, Italy, and Japan. Inclusivity wasn't the point: rage to continue the fight, then, and now, delivers a potent message. The cartoon served as a simple illustration of what a fifth column infiltrator, or in this case, internal grey-colored collaborator mouse, A.K.A. Tucker Carlson, looks like.

Tucker Carlson again questions why the US would side with Ukraine over Russia, Sinéad Baker, Insider.com

"My office is now getting calls from folks who say they watch Tucker Carlson and are upset that we're not siding with Russia in its threats to invade Ukraine, and who want me to support Russia's 'reasonable' positions," Rep. Tom Malinowski (D-N.J.) said in a tweet on Monday afternoon.

Democrat says Tucker Carlson viewers telling his office the US should side with Russia, Dominick Mastrangelo, TheHill.com

Do you know whose parents immigrated from Ukraine? Leonard Nimoy, who gave us the "live long and prosper" Mr. Spock salute from his Jewish synagogue traditions.

Public-opinion polling shows that Trump’s low opinion of American elections has practically become Republican Party orthodoxy. According to a Reuters/Ipsos poll released on Friday, Republicans have an “unprecedented” level of “concern and mistrust in the system.” Roughly 70 percent of Republican voters believe that if Hillary Clinton wins the election, it’ll be due to fraud. In both this poll and an NBC News/SurveyMonkey poll, only half of Republicans say they’d accept a Clinton victory. (In the latter poll, by contrast, 82 percent of Democrats said they would accept a Trump victory.)

This suspicious Republican electorate is joined by growing ranks of conservative politicians, pundits, and intellectuals. They’re all increasingly willing to say that the existing American political system is hopelessly flawed and needs to be rolled back to the days before blacks and women could vote. On the most obvious level, this can be seen in moves by Republican governors all over America to make voting more difficult, through stringent voting ID laws, new hurdles to registration, and the curtailment of early-voting options. Equally significant has been the gutting of key provisions of the Voting Rights Act by conservative Supreme Court justices in the 2013 Shelby Country v. Holder ruling.

The Right Is Giving Up on Democracy, Jeet Heer, The New Republic, October 24, 2016

Speaking of mice: Tennessee is blocking the graphic novel, Maus (I ordered it). 1/27/2022 yesterday was the 77th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz. The 1619 Project by Nicole Hannah-Jones is being referred to BY name and blocked. Reich Wing governments in red states are blocking Toni Morrison's "The Bluest Eye" and "Beloved." "To Kill a Mockingbird" by Harper Lee can hurt fragile feelings, this sentiment from people who mocked the left, and wore t-shirts to tell us: "F Your Feelings." Yeah.

On Wednesday, the Harvard University scholar Henry Louis Gates Jr. appeared on Oprah Winfrey's celebratory post-election special. After learning the news, Gates says, "we jumped up, we wept, we hooped and hollered." It is hard to overestimate the historical significance of the election of the first black U.S. President. For many blacks, and certainly, for much of the country and world, Obama's victory is an extraordinary step toward the redemption of America's original 400-year-old sin. It is astonishing not least for its quickness, coming just 145 years after President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation effectively ending slavery and four decades after the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. And it is even more astonishing for its decisiveness — Obama carried Virginia, once the home of the Confederacy, a place whose laws just five decades ago would have made the interracial union of his parents illegal. (See pictures of Barack Obama's family tree.)

What Obama's Election Really Means to Black America, Steven Gray, TIME, November 6, 2008

What Obama's election meant to White America was the eruption of racist tropes in the form of Obama-as-Hitler, Obama-as-Medicine-Man-Voodoo-Mystic, Obama-hung-in-effigy. The right-Reich-wing echo chamber kicked into high gear on television, podcasts, the Internet, and AM talk radio. White America was telling Black America precisely what they thought of having a black president. We weren't in "post-racial America," and the years of detente between the cultures was a smokescreen, a strong delusion.

Despite the fact that the 46th president has appointed more judges than any other president, despite the fact that the economy has grown faster than my senior year in college as an undergrad (1984), the Orwellian programming has his numbers in the statistical toilet. My theory is because 1. he's competent, 2. he's boring, which is largely what he promised after four years of 140-character COVFEFE-misspelled rage tweeting and genuflecting to Vladimir Putin from his megalomaniacal predecessor. What matters in our entertainment-first-news-later fourth estate of "journalism" is rage viewing, ratings, and clicks. We have forgotten what "normal" looks like if we ever knew.

We are ignoring the fifth column among us. They are armed. They want to "take their country back," as Glenn Beck (unvaccinated, caught covid TWO times) led chants at the Lincoln Memorial on August 27, 2010. "In 2012, a Fairleigh Dickinson University survey reported that Fox News viewers were less informed about current events than people who didn't follow the news at all." (This is FORBES! Read that again at the link.) The fifth column is pissed that they have to now share with "others": African Americans, Asian Americans, First Nation Peoples, Hispanics, Immigrants, LGBT, women, and haven't shared well since kindergarten. Sharing power is what happens when a democracy diversifies, and they have shown - from their electorate, their elected officials, their contrived laws to block votes, their propaganda outlets, and their brown shirts, to have little interest in doing that.

Watch what you're watching

Fox keeps feeding us toxins

Stop sleepingStart thinking outside of the box

And unplug from the Matrix doctrine

But watch what you say,

Big Brother is watching

Watch what you're watching

Fox keeps feeding us toxins
Stop sleeping
Start thinking outside of the box
And unplug from the Matrix doctrine
But watch what you say,

Fox Five is watching

"Sly Fox," by Nas, Genius Lyrics, and YouTube

We are whistling in the dark on the road to fascism.

2 Thessalonians 2:11 "And for this, cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: 12 That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had to pleasure in unrighteousness."

"Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities." Voltaire

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Endgame...

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Source: Marvel Disney Plus

Topics: Civics, Civil Rights, Existentialism, Human Rights, Fascism

Happy New Year, of a sort.

This kind of post would appear on a Friday, but it appears today on the one-year anniversary of an insurrection that one party that attempted it, is denying that they did try to overthrow the government.

"Problem 1. Suppose that we use a revolver with six chambers and one bullet. Calculate the probability of death of the first man mathematically.

"Suppose that players A and B play the game, and A is the first player. A takes up the gun in the first round and pulls the trigger. This time the probability of his death is 1/6.

"If A survives, then in the second round, B takes up the gun and does the same, and if B survives, then in the third round, A takes up the gun and does the same thing.

"Let’s calculate the probability of A’s death in the third round. If A is to die in the third round, A must survive the first round. The probability of survival for A in the first round is 5/6. After that, B has to survive in the second round. There are only five chambers and one bullet, so the probability of survival is 4/5. Then there are four chambers and one bullet, and the resulting probability of death is ¼.

"Therefore, the probability of death for A in the third round is 5/6 x 4/5 x ¼.

"As to the probability of A’s death in the fifth round, we can do almost the same calculation, and we get 5/6 x 4/5 x ¾ x 2/3 x ½.

"Finally, the probability of death of the first player A is 1/6 + (5/6 x 4/5 x ¼) + (5/6 x 4/5 x ¾ x 2/3 x ½) = 3/6 = ½."

From: "Elementary Theory of Russian Roulette: interesting patterns of fractions," Satoshi Hashiba, Daisuke Minematsu, Ryohei Miyadera

It's serendipity that the date of the modern attempted overthrow of our Democratic Republic, 1/6/2021, corresponds with "Russian" Roulette.

I've been asking myself this same question over again: "what is the endgame?" The Republican Party in 2016 at the influence of the convicted (and indebted) campaign manager, Paul Manifort, dropped any mention of opposition to Russian aggression in Ukraine. In 2020, they opted for the "Seinfeld Platform" of nothing and garnered 7 million MORE votes than the previous attempt to usurp democracy.

In the summer of 2016, McCarthy endorsed Trump for President, but only after the In the summer of 2016, McCarthy endorsed Trump for President, but only after the interloper from New York had sewn up the nomination. A year later, it emerged that, in June of 2016, McCarthy had told some of his fellow members of the House Republican leadership that he believed—“swear to God”—that Trump was in the pay of the Russian President, Vladimir Putin. When the Washington Post eventually reported about these comments, McCarthy tried to laugh them off as a joke.

The G.O.P. Can No Longer Be Relied On to Protect Democracy, John Cassidy, December 12, 2020, The New Yorker

The United States is marginally both a democratic republic and so-called "Christian" nation because of its slow expansion of citizenship to the marginalized: African American men, white women with the 19th Amendment, August 18, 1920, and black women finally with the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Immigrants, LGBT, refugees are slowly gaining rights only afforded by our "Founding Fathers" (or narcissistic sociopaths) to "propertied white men." The current majority leader in the Senate, Chuck Schumer, has scheduled a vote to debate the Voting Rights Bills in the chamber, and if Moscow Mitch et al elected fascists follow past precedent, they will block the bill with a cowardly email. A workaround could be making the Republican Senators debate it on C-SPAN and explain WHY they DO NOT want the franchise to expand any further. They won't do that of course, essentially making opposition attack ads of themselves acting like buffoons, or mean tweeting Big Bird. It will likely be blocked by the tweedle dee, tweedle dumb dynamic duo of Mazarati Man-Chin, Firebrand liberal-turned-Blue Dog Kirsten Sinema, who seems to miss that "Don't Look UP" is a parody of politicians like herself.

The real answer is, even in the numerical majority in the Senate, republicans represent fewer actual voters than democrats. As of 2019, California registers 39.51 million citizens; Wyoming (Liz Cheney and her father's state) has 578,759. Each state gets two senators. So theoretically would Washington, DC at 692,683, more than Wyoming, but most likely, those senators would not be republicans, but democrats. And Republicans have only won the popular vote under the two Bush's, meaning their policies only appeal to oligarchs.

Tucker Carlson has almost given up the game by softball interviewing the authoritarian dictator Viktor Orbán on his propaganda network, then CPAC is going "full Borat" by hosting an American conservative conference in a foreign country that's NOT a democracy. Projection, much?

So, what's the endgame? Are we "fascism fluid"; "authoritarian curious"? I don't think we have to wait for more than one more round of this existential Russian republic roulette.

What happens to the other world democracies if the largest, most powerful in human history disintegrates into a pile of feces? I don't expect a band of family dysfunctional superheroes is going to save us. Nor do I think Bezos, Branson, or Musk are going to save humanity by cracking the mystery of "warp drive" (don't hold your breath). If they could, do you think they wouldn't CHARGE an exorbitant fee to ride The Enterprise? In this case, Bill Maher has a valid point. It's made us infantile and "Waiting for Godot."

Lastly, cute curtseys won't save us from being a proverb, a byword, and a laughable mistake. Franklin's statement: "A republic, if you can keep it" is currently in doubt.

 

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Image Source: Facebook

Topics: Civics, Civil Rights, Existentialism, Fascism, Human Rights, Star Trek

“We should do away with the absolutely specious notion that everybody has to earn a living. It is a fact today that one in ten thousand of us can make a technological breakthrough capable of supporting all the rest. The youth of today are absolutely right in recognizing this nonsense of earning a living. We keep inventing jobs because of this false idea that everybody has to be employed at some kind of drudgery because according to Malthusian Darwinian theory he must justify his right to exist. So we have inspectors of inspectors and people making instruments for inspectors to inspect inspectors. The true business of people should be to go back to school and think about whatever it was they were thinking about before somebody came along and told them they had to earn a living.”

― Buckminster Fuller, Good Reads, Bio: Wikipedia

What do borders do, mean, and look like in different parts of the world? How are they decided? Who or what might they protect? How might they do harm? How and why might they change?

Countries protect their borders for several reasons. This is especially true in areas where two or more countries have fought over the same land. Cambodia and Thailand are countries in Southeast Asia. They have disputed the territory of the Preah Vihear Temple for more than a century.

Sometimes, borders keep citizens from leaving a country. Nations like North Korea, Myanmar, and Cuba rarely allow their residents to cross their borders.

Many border disputes happen when people fight over natural resources. Natural resources are anything a person can use that comes from the natural environment. The countries of Sudan and Egypt have argued for years over a region called Hala'ib. Hala'ib is rich in the mineral manganese, a natural resource. Manganese is important for making iron and steel.

Border problems often come up when people from other regions take over an area and create borders. During the 1800s and 1900s, European countries colonized much of Africa. In other words, outsiders from Europe moved into Africa. They took control of the people there. They took the land as their own. European colonists created the borders of most African countries. However, the borders they made often did not always consider the different groups living in an area.

Excerpts from "Overview: What Are Borders?" Facing History

The Corporation is a 2003 Canadian documentary film written by University of British Columbia law professor Joel Bakan, and directed by Mark Achbar and Jennifer Abbott. The documentary examines the modern-day corporation. Bakan wrote the book, The Corporation: The Pathological Pursuit of Profit and Power, during the filming of the documentary.

A sequel film, The New Corporation: The Unfortunately Necessary Sequel, was released in 2020.

The documentary shows the development of the contemporary business corporation, from a legal entity that originated as a government-chartered institution meant to affect specific public functions to the rise of the modern commercial institution entitled to most of the legal rights of a person. The documentary concentrates mostly upon corporations in North America, especially in the United States. One theme is its assessment of corporations as persons, as a result of an 1886 case in the Supreme Court of the United States in which a statement by Chief Justice Morrison Waite led to corporations as "persons" having the same rights as human beings, based on the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution.

Source: The Corporation (2003 film), Wikipedia, related: The New Corporation: The Unfortunately Necessary Sequel

In a Google Internet search on "the mythology of race," a book that's in my library is in the upper right-hand corner of my search page: "'The Myth of Race: The Troubling Persistence of an Unscientific Idea' is a book by anthropologist Robert Wald Sussman arguing that race is not, and never has been, a valid biological category in humans." As humans migrated out of Africa, they landed in places that didn't have the direct UV light of the equatorial sun. Lack of sunlight, eating or discovering foods native to their new lands, humans like any other animal adapted, and changed appearances with respect to their environments. In Europe, they didn't require Melanin, their hair straightened in the harsh arctic winters. Over time, all they saw was "them," and as long as everyone looked the same, the only thing that spurred conflict was covetousness: property, livestock, attractive lovers, and wives. Once trinkets, bobbles, and currency replaced barter, that encouraged hoarding, and comparisons between neighbors: who has the most "stuff?" As men explored other parts of the globe and found "them" and their stuff, there had to be a justification for taking their stuff as their own, for "some" having most, and "others" having the least. We are at the tipping point in the struggle to maintain three legal fictions: borders, corporations, and racial categories.

  • You are NOT in our borders: Mecca, 'Murica, "the promised land," the European Union, Wakanda forever. We are "us," and you are "them": you do not count, you are un-people.
  • No Mitt Romney, "corporations are not people." The robber barons used a boondoggle of the 14th Amendment to confer to themselves and their progeny unlimited power. People have lifespans: corporations are practically immortal psychopaths.
  • Until we find evidence of intelligent Martians, there is only ONE race, the human race.

Ubuntu (Zulu pronunciation: [ùɓúntʼù]) is a Nguni Bantu term meaning "humanity". It is sometimes translated as "I am because we are" (also "I am because you are"), or "humanity towards others" (in Zulu, umuntu ngumuntu ngabantu). Wikipedia

The aforementioned legal fictions are stifling our development as a species, but enriching the fat pockets of toxic, pathological families that consider themselves royalty, and worthy of worship (and have personality cults to do just that). At our current juncture, world government - genuine cooperation - is laughable. The conned danger of "others" makes us reinforce our borders, erect our walls, intern refugees in Libya, violating human rights with impunity. If there are any vaccines, the so-called First World Nations will receive the jabs first. Our performance during a pandemic has been pitiful. COP26 was whiter than the Oscars due to southern hemisphere nations (i.e., brown people) didn't receive the mRNA vaccines to ARGUE [about] that northern hemisphere nations (i.e., white folks) received first. So for safety reasons, browner nations were placed in political Zoom purgatory as the climate change can is kicked down the road.

The feckless mismanagement of Chief Justice John Roberts over his five radical brethren practically sealed the fate of the former Supreme Court: irrelevance. "Stare decisis is Latin for 'to stand by things decided.' In short, it is the doctrine of precedent. Courts cite stare decisis when an issue has been previously brought to the court and a ruling has already been issued. … Horizontal stare decisis refers to a court adhering to its own precedent" Cornel Law. If Roe v. Wade is overturned, there is no such thing as precedent. Expect same-sex marriage to fall next. After that, voting rights for African Americans, then all women's rights RBG fought for. Avalanches begin with a single snowflake. On the calendar, we barrel to the future; legally we'd be pre-Brown.

Oh, and the "gang of Putin" is chomping at the bit for another government shutdown, because Saint Ronnie saying "government is the problem" started a party grift that hasn't abated in 41 years, managing to "trickle-down" zero dividends, but trickle-up tax cuts without fail. They'd rather do important things like reading Dr. Suess in the well of the Senate or having Twitter battles with Big Bird.

Fear of the Antichrist - a malevolent narcissistic psychopath in a man suit - and the bloodlust for Armageddon fuels our current lunacy. It will not be benevolent aliens, a United Federation of Planets, superluminal space drives, or Heisenberg-defying matter re-sequencers that will spur the elimination of class struggle (and money, apparently). It will be global cooperation heretofore unseen.

"I am because we are." "I am because you are."

Such a world revolves around Ubuntu. We sadly seem bereft of its precepts.

Since it begins with "u" it must be associated with utopia: "nowhere place."

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Willful Ignorance...

 

Topics: Civics, Civil Rights, Climate Change, Existentialism, History, Human Rights

There is a high price for willful ignorance.

The above is Dr. Carl Sagan, an Astrophysicist, five years fresh off of the success of the original Cosmos series. He’s speaking about mitigating the effects of greenhouse gases, what is now referred to as global warming in 1985. The administration was Reagan and Bush I in the first year of their lame duck, a little before the Iran-Contra scandal.

This address to Congress is thirty-six years before COP26, which because the rich European and wealthy nations have refused to pay climate reparations, we are whistling in the dark towards a climate tipping point that we will not be able to escape by penis rockets, virtual reality, or opiates.

The mitigation ideas he suggested weren’t that radical and could have been put in place before our current crisis of once-in-a-century storms on almost a monthly basis (take, for example, Washington State’s flooding). Each occurrence of “The Day After Tomorrow” is met with a collective, societal shrug as distractions are more alluring than impending disasters, unless it directly affects us, and interrupts our current video streaming, or Orwellian “reality TV.” We elected a narcissist in 2016 because WE are a nation of narcissists.

After a century of wielding extraordinary economic and political power, America’s petroleum giants face a reckoning for driving the greatest existential threat of our lifetimes.

An unprecedented wave of lawsuits, filed by cities and states across the US, aims to hold the oil and gas industry to account for the environmental devastation caused by fossil fuels – and cover up what they knew along the way.

Coastal cities struggling to keep rising sea levels at bay, midwestern states watching “mega-rains” destroy crops and homes, and fishing communities losing catches to warming waters, are now demanding the oil conglomerates pay damages and take urgent action to reduce further harm from burning fossil fuels.

Big oil and gas kept a dirty secret for decades. Now they may pay the price, Chris McGreal, The Guardian.

I read the print version of “O is for Oligarchy” in the Austin Chronicle in 2010. Prescient, as the consensus wouldn’t be reported in Business Insider (originally in The Telegraph by Zachary Davies Boren) until 2014. To be fair, Vox published a rebuttal to the oligarchy thesis two years later. Our collective experience belies the rebuke.

Our performance during this pandemic points to a system that is sluggish to the masses of people that funds its tax base, and lightning-fast for the 400 families in the US to get their needs met in whatever legislation they want to be pushed, and whatever new tax break they wish to receive. Critical thinking isn’t encouraged. Tribal “us, versus them” has been used to divide the masses since the founding of the republic, whether Native Americans, kidnapped Africans, women, LGBT, immigrants, genteel “wink-and-nod” racism cum “Critical Race Theory.” It is a con, passed down from father to scion, reinforced by exclusive gatherings at Bilderberg, the Bohemian Club, and Trilateral Commission. These were once the fodder of myth and conspiracy theories, but they actually have websites. I doubt if they’re discussing supporting the spread of democratic ideals across the globe. More likely, how to maintain the gaslighting of disdained "bewildered herds" of humanity and to continue to line their pockets.

They are, unfortunately, in an Ayn Rand-Atlas-Shrugged-Fountain-Head-Elysium of their own minds. A utopia of their zip codes, blithely unaware that as the poet John Donne stated, they are not gods, but “each is a piece of the continent, a part of the main.”

As Dr. Carl Sagan pointed out to a young Senator Al Gore in 1985, before he rendered his concerns in PowerPoint slides to Nobel laureate and an Oscar for the related documentary "An Inconvenient Truth," and the aptly-named "An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power," pushing the problem off to future generations isn’t just intellectually lazy, it has in it a perverse and sadistic callousness. “Eat, drink, and be merry” now Epicurus, for indeed “tomorrow we may die.” However, tomorrow should not be one of the casualties in the pursuit of callous, temporal pleasures. For the lack of starships and despite exclusive cul de sacs, scions and serfs cohabit Terra Firma. I have ONE burning question:

How well can billions spend on a dystopian planet?

 

 

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Kristallnacht...

 

Topics: Civics, Civil Rights, Democracy, Existentialism, Fascism, Human Rights

Amid the GOP's nationwide push against teaching about race and sexuality in schools, two members of the Spotsylvania County School Board in Virginia advocated for burning certain books, according to the Fredericksburg-based Free Lance-Star newspaper.

This came as the school board directed staff to begin removing "sexually explicit" books from library shelves, after voting 6-0 in favor of the removal, the Lance-Star reported. The board has plans to review how certain books or materials are defined as "objectionable," the paper said, which opens the door for other content to be removed.

Courtland representative Rabih Abuismail and Livingston representative Kirk Twigg both championed burning the books that have been removed.

"I think we should throw those books in a fire," Abuismail said. Meanwhile, Twigg said he wanted to "see the books before we burn them so we can identify within our community that we are eradicating this bad stuff."

November starts with the intensity of electoral politics. For other nations, the election cycle isn't "big business." The only similarity between The New York Times, and Newsmax is each follows a business model that relies on orchestrated anxiety and eyeballs. The "fourth estate" is yellow journalism now if it ever was something else noble.

Elections in other countries have weekends for early voting, and the event is a holiday in many places. The forces that don't want a "crisis of democracy" in the United States prefer to keep our current malaise at the slow speed of the status quo, and if possible, reverse time politically in defiance of the Second Law of Thermodynamics and time's arrow.

November should be the time to remove the October festival/Halloween decorations and begin to think of family gatherings (that we can do now that vaccination rates are going up), and the gentle pressure to advertise the Christmas/Hannukah/Solstice season on radio, television, and department store muzak.

A synagogue in Austin was set ablaze. "Antisemitic and racist stickers and flyers were found at Ramsey Park in central Austin Tuesday morning," according to KXAN.com. The antisemites were arrested for their crimes.

Ryan Faircloth was arrested for firebombing the DNC headquarters in Austin, Texas. He was later released on a mere $2,500 bond. Elected officials are getting death threats. Election workers are getting death threats. This didn't have to happen. The model existed before 2016. Fascism is born of fear. The fear is they are going to be the numerical minority, that the default "norm" will no longer be white culture and Norman Rockwell greeting cards.

Bill O'Reilly harangued Dr. George Tiller ("Tiller, the baby killer") until he was murdered by anti-abortion terrorist Scott Roeder.

Sarah Palin posted "don't retreat: RELOAD!" along with gunsights over the headquarters of democrats, including Arizona Representative Gabby Giffords. The conservative democrat survived an assassination attempt by Jared Lee Loughner, answering the call of the former Wasilla Mayor as if it came from Mount Sinai or Mount Olympus.

There is shouting at medical professionals, teachers in classrooms, and people wearing masks on planes, or in public places. For peace of mind, good people will not serve as election officials, seek public office, work in medicine, or education. Since "nature abhors a vacuum," we will see the rise of what used to be the mad quackery that John Boehner and Paul Ryan tolerated from Paul Gosar to "win." The quackery will become the center and the "Grand Old Party" is no longer the "Party of Lincoln," but a banana republic.

Terrorism (noun): the unlawful use of violence and intimidation, especially against civilians, in the pursuit of political aims.

Reuters identified more than 100 threats of death or violence made to U.S. election workers and officials, part of an unprecedented campaign of intimidation inspired by Trump’s false claims that the 2020 election was stolen. The response so far: only four known arrests and no convictions.

U.S. election workers get little help from law enforcement as terror threats mount, Campaign of Fear, Linda So and Jason Szep

"Kristallnacht, (German: “Crystal Night”), also called Night of Broken Glass or November Pogroms, was the night of November 9–10, 1938, when German Nazis attacked Jewish persons and property. The name Kristallnacht refers ironically to the litter of broken glass left in the streets after these pogroms. The violence continued during the day of November 10, and in some places, acts of violence continued for several more days."

Kristallnacht, Brittanica.com

It took eighty-three years to go from the pogroms of Europe to the Kristallnacht of America.

We are on the precipice of a dystopian apocalypse.

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The Incredible Callousness of Being…

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Topics: Civics, Civil Rights, Existentialism, Fascism, Human Rights

Title source: The Unbearable Lightness of Being, a 1984 novel by Milan Kundera.

The White House correspondent slot is a coveted perch in Washington, DC, media real estate. After landing an excellent job and a press pass, a select few of journalism’s crème de la crème get to march through the White House gates and mix it up with the president’s inner circle; they get the chance, to tell the truth to power at the highest level, or at least to sit in on White House briefings and go to the White House correspondents’ dinner.

Some news organizations have sent reporters to the White House gaggle who have endured fame for their journalistic rigor and iconic visual profiles. Others—like the right-wing television channel Newsmax—seem to have missed the reasonableness memo.

Emerald Robinson, Newsmax’s White House correspondent, was taken to task this week for spewing some of the wildest COVID-19 vaccine disinformation seen on planet Earth to her 437,000 followers on Twitter. Robinson could simply have claimed that highly tested, safe, and effective coronavirus vaccines contain microchips that the government uses to track people. That would have been nonsense, but not far removed from a standard anti-vaxxer line. But Robinson made a more bizarre claim: She implied that the vaccines contain something even more devilish than microchips. The devil himself.

“Dear Christians, the vaccines contain a bioluminescent marker called LUCIFERASE so that you can be tracked. Read the last book of the New Testament to see how this ends,” she wrote in a since-deleted tweet.

What the hell? Newsmax correspondent thinks Satan is in COVID-19 vaccines, Matt Field, Bureau of Atomic Scientists

News flash: Beelzebub is not in your Covid vaccine. I’ve had both shots of Moderna and the booster. I have not spontaneously combusted, levitated furniture, cursed people out in Latin, or regurgitated pea soup (see: Linda Blair, in "The Exorcist").

The propaganda outlet’s title is Orwellian: nothing about it is “news,” nor is it superlative compared to all others.

If you’re a certain age, you recall the news by anchors like Walter Cronkite, Peter Jennings, Dan Rather, and Mike Wallace (Chris Wallace’s father). We had three stations, and a UHF channel on good days. The local news preceded the national news on ABC, CBS, and NBC. You had no idea who these gentlemen voted for. There was no “theme” to the channels: it was the news. Local and national news took ONE HOUR, it wasn't on repeat or loop, there were no smartphones with alerts. There was a morning, an evening newspaper that filled out the rest of what you needed to make sense of the world (we were in a Cold War with Russia). After that hour, the sitcoms and dramas filled the evening and did what they were supposed to do: entertain. There was no merger, no invention of "infotainment." It was what you needed as a citizen to make decisions about managing the republic. Every citizen had the responsibility of governance. Democrats could win one election, Republicans the next. The sacred text of the republic was The Constitution, it was sacrosanct.

Notice, I’m referring to our founding documents in the past tense.

Originally published in 1985, Neil Postman’s groundbreaking polemic about the corrosive effects of television on our politics and public discourse has been hailed as a twenty-first-century book published in the twentieth century. Now, with television joined by more sophisticated electronic media—from the Internet to cell phones to DVDs—it has taken on even greater significance. Amusing Ourselves to Death is a prophetic look at what happens when politics, journalism, education, and even religion become subject to the demands of entertainment. It is also a blueprint for regaining control of our media so that they can serve our highest goals.

“A brilliant, powerful, and important book. This is an indictment that Postman has laid down and, so far as I can see, an irrefutable one.” –Jonathan Yardley, The Washington Post Book World

Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Showbusiness, Neil Postman

Another book by Neil Postman and Steve Powers: “How To Watch TV News.” A summary:

An important guide to understanding what you’re getting--and not getting--from TV news. Postman and Powers warn that anyone who relies exclusively on TV for knowledge of the world is making a serious mistake and suggest ways to intelligently evaluate TV news shows.

Add to that: Facebook, Snapchat, Tik Tok, Twitter, et al. The sage advice is to read actual books, reputable sources of news, and maybe a course on critical thinking, and civics.

Emerald Robinson knew exactly what she was doing and probably knew enough to delete the tweet after it was sent. It’s the same excuse Rush Limbaugh used for his bombastic rants that were mantra from Budda for ditto heads: “I'm just an entertainer.” By stoking the rage-against-the-brown-boogiemen machine, Fox Propaganda, News Min, and Dumb Bart have made huge profits on what is arguably “white grievance minstrelsy,” previously known as “angry white men.” Neilsen ratings are another harangue, and television has one mission: product sales. It can be meal prep, travel businesses, or erectile dysfunction. "Soap Operas" was the self-pejorative of what are now the few daytime dramas that are left.

The Kyle Rittenhouse murder trial and the trial of the three murderers of Ahmaud Aubrey, miles distant from each other have the distinction of having ONE African American on the jury for EACH trial: 11:1. I was surprised by the Walter Scott murder trial verdict. I was surprised by the George Floyd murder trial verdict. For Briona Taylor and Trayvon Martin, the outcomes weren’t surprises, just infuriating.

There is a callousness to our discourse, as Carl Sagan once said "a celebration of ignorance." There is a difference between true ignorance, willful ignorance, and gaslighting. Ignorance is from a lack of information, that can be remedied. Willful ignorance is when you're speaking to an expert, reading a sourced document, and you willingly choose to combat the information, verbally, or physically, because it causes cognitive dissonance. Gaslighting is the tactic of an abuser, to make you question your reality. Emerald Robinson was gaslighting her Twitter followers, knowing it would get out into the Zeitgeist and fuel vaccine hesitancy, the main factor extending the pandemic her president bungled horribly. Gaslighting is abusive, but when you no longer question or resist the torture, you're a participant. O'Brien broke the will of Winston Smith in Orwell's "1984," there are as many fingers as O'Brien says there are.

For example, the elections Tuesday were predictable: every off-year election in Virginia and New Jersey has elected governors from the opposing party in the White House. The news media pounces on it: "it's a referendum on the current administration" they say, "it's a wakeup call to Democrats" says Kevin McCarthy, who manages to look like a howler monkey in a suit. With the exception of New Jersey, where Phil Murphy held on by a thread, that paradigm has repeated historically. Yet for eyeballs and detergent sales, cue the handwringing and pontification. Nielsen ratings.

Emerald Robinson preys on the existential fears of "the end times" by evangelicals steeped in the folklore and having watched a recent clip from the "Left Behind" series. From Hal Lindsey to Tim LaHay, eschatology is a lucrative business, unless the Chicxulub meteor hits before your booking on Morning Joe. "Christ Returns by 1988: 101 Reasons Why" has obviously fallen out of favor. It was quite a sensation in 1982.

Emerald would have been the head of the spear if the Virginia Governor's Race went Terry 'McAuliffe's way. There was obviously no "voter fraud," just bungling by McAuliffe, and defaulting to the comfortable by the DNC. McAuliffe is "known," but the Democratic Party needs to acknowledge its future isn't appealing to a dwindling white majority, but to constituents that look like "The Squad." Pretending otherwise, or deferring to 80s-style Democratic Leadership Council orthodoxy is political suicide.

Ms. Robinson would have contributed to whipping their audience into a dangerous, armed frenzy. Death Santis has a voter integrity bureau patterned after the Ministry of Truth, to intimidate legitimate voters, more or less brown voters, from participating in the franchise. Any election Republicans win is by definition legitimate. Any elections Democrats lose, they concede gracefully. Any elections Democrats win in the future will be fraudulent, and "stolen." The "Big Lie" is the only thing wanted from the previous occupant of the Oval Office. What they want is the obfuscation as a cudgel. That kind of propaganda leads to armed violence, and a failed state, not Florida: America.

This is not democracy. It is the fractured foundation of a crumbling republic.

I'm not sure if American companies, "woke" or otherwise, will come to our rescue. As long as the Stock Market functions, as long as product ships to customers, the one percent has always been socially distant with mansions in exclusive zip codes, in other countries, penis spaceships to visit Elysium, the investors, and boards will largely ignore societal collapse. The only devils are the architects of the "Big Lie." The hell is our slide into authoritarian rule, "not with a bang, but a whimper" (TS Eliot, "The Hollow Men").

“Hell is empty and all the devils are here.” William Shakespeare, "The Tempest."

 

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This Dragon...

 

Topics: Civics, Civil Rights, COVID-19, Existentialism, Fascism, Human Rights

The Brainwashing of My Dad is a 2015 American documentary film directed by Jen Senko about her father's transformation from a nonpolitical Democrat into a political Republican. The film was mostly funded by a Kickstarter campaign.

Synopsis

As Jen Senko tries to understand the transformation of her father from a nonpolitical Democrat to an angry Republican fanatic, she uncovers the forces behind the media that changed him completely: a plan by Roger Ailes under President Richard Nixon for a media takeover by the Republicans, the 1971 Powell Memo urging business leaders to influence institutions of public opinion (especially the media, universities, and courts), the 1987 dismantling of the Fairness Doctrine under President Ronald Reagan, and the signing of the 1996 Telecommunications Act under President Bill Clinton. The documentary aims to show how the media and the nation changed, which leads to questions about who owns the airwaves, what rights listeners and watchers have, and what responsibility the government has to keep the airwaves fair, accurate, and accountable. Wikipedia

In his book An Instinct for Dragons (2000), anthropologist David E. Jones suggests a hypothesis that humans, like monkeys, have inherited instinctive reactions to snakes, large cats, and birds of prey. A dragon is a large, serpentinelegendary creature that appears in the folklore of many cultures worldwide. Beliefs about dragons vary considerably through regions, but dragons in western cultures since the High Middle Ages have often been depicted as winged, horned, four-legged, and capable of breathing fire. Dragons in eastern cultures are usually depicted as wingless, four-legged, serpentine creatures with above-average intelligence. Commonalities between dragons' traits are often a hybridization of feline, avian, and reptilian features, and may include: snakelike features, reptilian scaly skin, four legs with three or four toes on each, spinal nodes running down the back, a tail, and a serrated jaw with rows of teeth. Several modern scholars believe huge extinct or migrating crocodiles bear the closest resemblance, especially when encountered in forested or swampy areas, and are most likely the template of modern dragon imagery. Wikipedia/Dragon again, though somewhat rearranged.

Jen Senko uses the strongly suggestive term "brainwashing," and in a few interviews I've heard her give (last one on Thom Hartmann), she alluded to the part of the brain referenced as the amygdala: "region of the brain primarily associated with emotional processes. The name amygdala is derived from the Greek word amygdale, meaning “almond,” owing to the structure’s almond-like shape. The amygdala is located in the medial temporal lobe, just anterior to (in front of) the hippocampus. Similar to the hippocampus, the amygdala is a paired structure, with one located in each hemisphere of the brain. The amygdala is part of the limbic system, a neural network that mediates many aspects of emotion and memory. Although historically the amygdala was considered to be involved primarily in fear and other emotions related to aversive (unpleasant) stimuli, it is now known to be involved in positive emotions elicited by appetitive (rewarding) stimuli." (Britannica) Because it is primitive, it's famously referred to as the reptilian brain (in Brain World Magazine, no less). Ms. Senko's thesis was simply that her once calm, middle-of-the-road liberal dad became a fire-breathing (pun intended) conservative through endless repetition in the right-wing echo chamber of the idea he had something to fear, or someone in the form of foreigners and people of color. Her dad ironically came to this country as an immigrant. But through a relentless repetition campaign worthy of, and plagiarizing propaganda techniques from the Creel Committee, he transformed. Ms. Senko's dad is "patient zero," of our present darkness.

This is [our] life

Lisa Ling did an excellent job on her "This Is Life" series on conspiracy theories in America, and that they aren't anything "new" to the national landscape. The problem is, it's been digitized, and monetized over social media such that the more outrageous, the more violent the content, the more money those same companies make. Despite the proven harm to young teen girls and a lot of adults, the solution is practiced inaction. The pattern is public Mea Culpa, then do nothing, claim to be a social media platform, but not a journalistic platform, because lies monetized are more lucrative than publishing the truth.

Part of the problem is the many times we as citizens have been lied to: the overthrow of Mohammad Mossadegh, and the installation of the Shah over a democratically-elected leader of Iran in 1953. Nationalizing oil reserves gained the ire of the CIA, MI6, and British Petroleum. The sixties was an assassination decade, and theories of President Kennedy's assassination (and the immediate killing of Lee Harvey Oswald by Jack Ruby), Medgar Evers, Malcolm X, Dr. Martin Luther King, Robert Kennedy were splayed on newsletters, and pamphlets; beauty/barber shops, and water coolers. There's still a group that doesn't believe we went to the moon, aliens are somehow interested in "little-old-us"; Bigfoot and Nessie are real creatures, and the world post-Apollo is either flat or donut-shaped (I'm not kidding). Follow that with "I'm not a crook" Richard Nixon, "we're not selling arms for hostages" Ronald Reagan, it's no wonder trust in institutions other than the military is at an all-time low. Roger Ailes and Rush Limbaugh appealed to fellow jowl-faced constituents that consider Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion an existential crisis, as their impish clone, Tucker Carlson parrots "replacement theory." "Nature abhors a vacuum," and provocateurs like Alex Jones are more than happy to fill the trust void. Add to that the 30,000+ COVFEFE whoppers of the last Oval Office occupant, and the death toll his lies bore. At least Brazil is considering holding Jair Bolsonaro responsible for crimes against humanity for 100,000+ dead. Our body count is higher. "U-S-A!" "U-S-A!"

Senator Angus King has evolved on the filibuster. He's willing to change the rules so voting rights can get passed. However, the dragon reared its head to "conserve" the status quo of white supremacy (Senator Tim Scott needs a new mirror and an active human soul).

It is interesting that Steve Scalise, the minority whip counter on the Republican side of the House, is urging his colleagues to vote NO on holding his br'er fascist, Steve Bannon, in criminal contempt of Congress in fealty to a demagogue that lost the 2020 election, the Senate, and the House. If the rule of law is subject to "situational nihilism" (Brian Williams, The 11th Hour, MSNBC), then the law as we thought we knew it is essentially moot. Only nine Republicans in the House followed The Constitution to hold Bannon in contempt of Congress with all the Democrats, meaning all the Republicans who voted against it are in contempt of Congress. Now, "Robert Lewis, Rufus, and Frog" along with "Billy Bob, Cooter, and Skeeter" will all declare themselves Republicans, and ignore any subpoenas sent to them, reduced to a notion by the man whose publicly stated aim was to "deconstruct the administrative state." Good luck running courts large and small across the nation. 'Murica.

Scalise once described himself as "David Duke without the baggage." David Duke was a grand dragon, and avowed white supremacist. Any kind of supremacy is anathema to democracy. To quote a 2020 tweet from someone named Beau Willimon, succinctly comparing Capitalism, Socialism, Authoritarianism, and Democracy:

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Our democracy can no longer afford to ride this leviathan and continue to exist.

"And another sign appeared in heaven: behold, a great, fiery red dragon having seven heads and ten horns, and seven diadems on his heads." Revelations 12:3

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Gambit...

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Image source: Merriam-Webster

Topics: Civics, Civil Rights, Existentialism, Fascism, Human Rights

Noun: a chess opening in which a player risks one or more pawns or a minor piece to gain an advantage in position

Ninety percent of Fox Propaganda employees are fully vaccinated. The employees are required to disclose their vaccine status. The network tests the 10% that refuse daily, presumably barring them from the property, and mandating they quarantine if they test positive. For the record: that's more stringent than the Biden administration, which only has a weekly requirement. Even as talking heads push hydroxychloroquine, ivermectin, bear bile, and other quackery to their viewership.

The pawn is the least powerful chess piece, but it can be promoted into any other chess piece (except for a king). As Philidor once said, "Pawns are the soul of chess!" Chess.com

The disdain Rupert Murdock's network has for its viewership is only matched by the congruent ghoulishness of Kevin Q-Carthy, Moscow Mitch, and the death cult crew. The debt ceiling has been with us since 1917, the year before the last pandemic. It has been since the Obama administration, a game of chicken; a hostage tactic. It's not one side of the chessboard or the other: it's the entire field or the republic.

Congress has always restricted federal debt. The Second Liberty Bond Act of 1917 included an aggregate limit on federal debt as well as limits on specific debt issues. Through the 1920s and 1930s, Congress altered the form of those restrictions to give the U.S. Treasury more flexibility in debt management and to allow modernization of federal financing. In 1939, a general limit was placed on federal debt.

Federal debt accumulates when the government sells debt to the public to finance budget deficits and to meet federal obligations or when it issues debt to government accounts, such as the Social Security, Medicare, and Transportation trust funds. Total federal debt is the sum of debt held by the public and debt held by government accounts. Debt also increases when the portfolio of federal loans expands.

Congress has modified the debt limit 14 times since 2001. Congressional Research Service Report

We have now exceeded the death toll of the 1918 flu pandemic. Gaslighting has replaced ideas, emotion has been substituted for substance. The "American Pravda" rage machine found out last year Rage Against the Machine is a political band that probably doesn't favor their worldview. Fox Propaganda and the "gang of Putin" are solely dedicated to killing any bills that help the citizens of the United States, and the world at large, and anything that would make oligarchs and corporations pay the taxes they've dodged in particular. Neither has had any ideas since the "trickledown" 1980s. Income inequality is worse now than in the Gilded Age, with the one percent profiteering off the pandemic. Their wealth is literally built on the bones of 716,849 Americans. By Christmas, we'll be over a million. In a gambit, the Fox viewership/republican constituents' deaths are acceptable losses.

Yet, the criminal enterprise masquerading as a political party in Congress, in statehouses, has an opportunity to regain majority status. Why? Because of the raw exercise of POWER. Appealing to emotion, "owning the libs" haven't improved the lives of their constituents. It has convinced them their "representatives" hate the "others" they hate. It is an addiction to sadistic dopamine. The other acceptable casualty is the federal republic.

It's sad when the problem of 3.5 to 1.5 trillion is solvable with simple math. $3.5T over 10 years is $350B/year. $1.5T over 4 years is $375B/year. Then, Democrats can dare Republicans to run against it in 2022, and 2024. Once Americans experience expanded Medicare, free hearing aids, and glasses for seniors, free childcare, free community college (that will reduce the cost of four-year college), some movement on climate change that they can SEE, and FEEL, the political ads write themselves. This is an example of government functioning to HELP a stated need. Socialism is tax cuts for wealthy individuals, and corporations after failure in the "free market." Socialism is government subsidies to the fossil fuels industry since the Bolshevik Revolution. There would be no logical argument to take away something every American would have experienced in the positive, even though logic for Putin's party has been bereft for some time. Manchin gets what he wants, progressives get what they want. That, in my humble opinion, would be the strategic exercise of power.

If Republicans are a criminal enterprise, they behave like a functional Mafia family, capable of loyalty to the heinous, and in witness to obvious crimes by a chief executive, Omerta. Democrats, for all my support, behave like a herd of "woke" cats with Twitter fingers as itchy as the useless troll, Marjorie Taylor Green. I have called my congressional representative. Politics is the "art of compromise" and the "art of the possible." If you cannot compromise with a recalcitrant cult, do what's possible on your own. You will be RICHLY rewarded for it.

"Pawns are the soul of chess!" An informed citizenry is the soul of democracy.

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It Can Happen Here...

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“If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it. The lie can be maintained only for such time as the State can shield the people from the political, economic, and/or military consequences of the lie. It thus becomes vitally important for the State to use all of its powers to repress dissent, for the truth is the mortal enemy of the lie, and thus by extension, the truth is the greatest enemy of the State.” Image, and quote from the Jewish Virtual Library.

Topics: Civics, Civil Rights, Existentialism, Fascism, Human Rights

The novel was published during the heyday of fascism in Europe, which was reported on by Dorothy Thompson, [Sinclair] Lewis's wife.[3] The novel describes the rise of Berzelius "Buzz" Windrip, a demagogue who is elected President of the United States, after fomenting fear and promising drastic economic and social reforms while promoting a return to patriotism and "traditional" values. After his election, Windrip takes complete control of the government and imposes totalitarian rule with the help of a ruthless paramilitary force, in the manner of European fascists such as Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini. The novel's plot centers on journalist Doremus Jessup's opposition to the new regime and his subsequent struggle against it as part of a liberal rebellion. Source: Wikipedia, "It Can't Happen Here," Sinclair Lewis

The former Republican Party published an autopsy of their failed efforts to make President Barack Obama a one-term executive after 2012. They lost backing the bastion of latte Republicanism, Mitt Romney, who lied his ass off in the first presidential debate, yet his warnings about Russia in the second have stood the test of time. The Growth and Opportunity Project is a double entendre: the capitalized lettering obviously referring to the former party by its acronym, a suggestion that with a few tweaks, they could meet the changing demographics clear-eyed, with a strategy for growth, and success. Commissioned by the first of three serial Chiefs of Staff, Reince Priebus, it was soon as published turned to political toilet paper.

There is a potent currency to whiteness, ever since it was created in 1681 after the Bacon Rebellion by the one percent of the day. Efficiently separating citizens into "us," and "others" is effective in not having accountability for sadistic policies. It's not that executive boards of predominately cisgender white men sought to take their jobs overseas to pay pennies on the dollar for what amounts to sweatshop slave labor. It's "those blacks," "those Mexicans," "those Haitians," "those Afghanis," "those climate refugees," those "others" that took your job. You can blame others for every missed opportunity, every failure to obtain a promotion, and financial security. It's an effective gaslighting tool when your marks participate in the con.

If you're seeing a commercial by an outfit called American Edge Project, they are a part of an impressive list of Dark Money groups Open Secrets documents that are completely fine with the continuation of the con job that allows them to pay little, or no taxes, yet have outsized influence in our legislation, and laws through what is ostensibly "legal" bribes. Many of those legal bribes come from social media behemoths.

The Wall Street Journal did an expose on Facebook (NPR article), and its ancillary product Instagram on its negative effects on preteen, and teenage girls that they apparently knew about, and for the sake of Mammon, and sacrifices on the altar of Moloch, did little, or nothing to mitigate its deleterious effects. The attempted coup was in part, organized on its platform, vaccine hesitancy, and abject quackery, as well as other iterations of social media. Social media is the main propagator of propaganda, yet hold onto the notion they're not "journalism," therefore cannot be held accountable by those standards. Seventy-three percent of election misinformation dropped worldwide when the modern propagator of the "Big Lie" got his Twitter account permanently closed.

The so-called Cyber Ninjas not only proved once again that Joe Biden won, but they also found him more votes. They owe Arizona an apology and reimbursement of money to taxpayers for despoiled voting machines. But the "Big Lie" persists in Texas, ordering an audit where the former Oval Office occupant won the red state handily, a cynical, craven move by Greg Abbott to protect his right flank from the true crazies that want his job in a GOP primary. That is the point behind voter restrictions, and draconian abortion "posses." He is the American analog of Saddam Hussein holding back ISIS. Texans teeter towards Gilead.

Modern fascists don't wear swastikas, but aren't morally opposed to the useful rubes that insist on them, and goosestep like peacocks in parades to "scare the blacks," "scare the Mexicans," and "own the libs." True fascists work from boardrooms, have lobbyists funneling dark money on Capitol Hill to Democratic "moderates," and Republican empty suits. Modern fascists wear expensive Italian suits, jut their tanned, California-surfer-dude chins out, contradict their last statements made after the Capitol insurrection, and manage six-figure salaries essentially treading water. Other democratic republics like England, Germany, France, and Israel, form coalition governments of parties that resemble our duopoly in the US, and the fringes that so far in a communications analogy, are kept as low noise to the broader signal of democratic governance. It's messy, but coalescing the "will of the governed" is always messy. We, by the way, have and insist on a duopoly because the lobbyists can easily "split the baby" in the management of their legal bribes.

Which is why I wonder: if the Keystone Cops Coup, on January 6, 2021, was successful, or any other subsequent coup by a more competent fascist ended the "democratic experiment," would Corporate America follow a moral obligation to save our federal republic?

The documentary shows the development of the contemporary business corporation, from a legal entity that originated as a government-chartered institution meant to affect specific public functions to the rise of the modern commercial institution entitled to most of the legal rights of a person. The documentary concentrates mostly upon corporations in North America, especially in the United States. One theme is its assessment of corporations as persons, as a result of an 1886 case in the Supreme Court of the United States in which a statement by Chief Justice Morrison Waite[nb 1] led to corporations as "persons" having the same rights as human beings, based on the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution.

Topics addressed include the Business Plot, where, in 1933, General Smedley Butler exposed an alleged corporate plot against then U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt; the tragedy of the commonsDwight D. Eisenhower's warning people to beware of the rising military-industrial complex; economic externalities; suppression of an investigative news story about Bovine Growth Hormone on Fox affiliate television station WTVT in Tampa, Florida, at the behest of Monsanto; the invention of the soft drink Fanta by The Coca-Cola Company due to the trade embargo on Nazi Germany; the alleged role of IBM in the Nazi holocaust (see IBM and the Holocaust); the Cochabamba protests of 2000 brought on by the privatization of a municipal water supply in Bolivia; and in general themes of corporate social responsibility, the notion of limited liability, the corporation as a psychopath, and the debate about corporate personhood. Source: Wikipedia - The Corporation (2003 film)

Answer: I think not.

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Dunning-Kruger Death Cult...

 

Topics: Civics, Civil Rights, Climate Change, COVID-19, Existentialism, Fascism, Human Rights

In a speech 40 years ago to a group of conservative preachers, Heritage Foundation founder Paul Weyrich said, “Now many of our Christians have what I call the ‘goo-goo syndrome.’ Good government. They want everybody to vote. I don’t want everybody to vote. Elections are not won by a majority of people. They never have been from the beginning of our country, and they are not now.

“As a matter of fact,” he continued, “our leverage in the elections quite candidly goes up as the voting populace goes down.”

Weyrich’s idea continues to animate the GOP today. In dismissing a Democratic push for reforms, including vote-by-mail, same-day registration, and early voting to assist state-run elections in the midst of the deadly COVID-19 pandemic, Donald Trump opined, “They had things, levels of voting that if you’d ever agreed to it, you’d never have a Republican elected in this country again.”

Starting with Nixon’s “Southern Strategy” in 1968, through Weyrich’s candid acknowledgment in 1980, to Donald Trump’s numerous rants, the GOP has consistently stood against reasonable voter registration laws and fair and equitable access to the polls — because they know they lose in a battle of ideas.

Wake up, folks: the campaign against democracy continues

Bill Dwyer, Oak Park, and River Forest Letters to the Editor, Opinion: Wednesday Journal
November 18, 2020, Updated February 11, 2021

The modern "gang of Putin" is Paul Weyrich's wet dream. There is a through-line from Barry Goldwater to Weyrich, Weyrich to Nixon, Nixon to Reagan, Reagan to Orange Satan. Goldwater got some disingenuous ads against him, painting him as crazy enough to start a thermonuclear war. Lyndon Baines Johnson won 486 electoral votes to Goldwater's 52. It was then Goldwater, years before Watergate, coined "you've got to hunt where the ducks are." The ducks were the disaffected southern Dixiecrats in deep depression because Civil Rights and Voting Rights from the US Constitution were being extended to African Americans. When you have privilege, equal justice seems like persecution. Privilege is a kind of willful blindness. For white supremacist power, party insiders weren't, and aren't, willing to remove the scales.

Former President George W. Bush indict(ed) the January 6, 2021, attempted coup in his remarks at the 20-year anniversary observance of 9/11. Bush, however, appointed federal judges during his tenure in a nod to Goldwater, Weyrich, and Nixon's "Southern Strategy." George W. Bush signed the reauthorization of the Voting Rights Act when it was a bipartisan affair: it is now seen as existential for Democrats, and disposable for Republicans. The 2000 election was controversial: Bush won the electoral college and lost the popular vote, the second Republican presidential candidate to do so in this century. His party's nominees have lost the popular vote in seven out of eight presidential elections, and, by their admission, they are demographically shrinking. Bush's defense attorneys in Florida were Chief Justice John Roberts, and Justices Brett Kavanaugh, and Amy Coney Barrett, three of five judges appointed by presidents who lost the popular vote. The Patriot Act was seen as government overreach into civil liberties and birthed a lot of blogs on the left as mainstream media ignored it for access journalism. We're reeling from the expense of the Afghanistan and Iraq Wars, one too long in duration, and the other added via obfuscation. He may not have been as extreme as we currently see his party exhibiting, but he did inadvertently till the soil of institutional doubt.

It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note insofar as her citizens of color are concerned. Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America has given its colored people a bad check, a check that has come back marked "insufficient funds." But we refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt. We refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds in the great vaults of opportunity of this nation. So we have come to cash this check, a check that will give us upon demand the riches of freedom and security of justice. We have also come to his hallowed spot to remind America of the fierce urgency of Now.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., "I Have A Dream," August 28, 1963

"The Wages of Whiteness" a book by David R. Roediger I use to juxtapose the check America is still trying to cash with African Americans without sufficient funds. The wage of this whiteness was supposed to have sufficiency in perpetuity. All it needed were pariahs that they could blame for any societal faux pas: the economy and welfare were the faults of "young bucks," and "welfare queens," not oligarchs and tax cheats. We were patriotic and resolute until Iran-Contra occurred, flooding weapons to the Contras, and drugs to Compton. Culture wars were always the right's "whitewashed sepulchers," dead tombs with the façade of rose-covered balconies, and rainbow farts out of unicorns. The pariah label was extended to all BIPOC, and karma is making them the majority by 2042. The check for the balance of supremacy is draining inexorably from the church bank account of the whitewashed sepulcher.

Texas is a laboratory for instigating "The Handmaid's Tale." Second Amendment rights trumps (pun intended) bodily autonomy. South Dakota's governor always looks high, giving the middle finger to masks and Lakota sacred grounds on the 4th of July during the alpha phase of the pandemic, and Florida's governor has the well-earned nickname "Death Santis" that will stick in his bid for re-election, and higher office. A heat map of COVID hotspots in California is almost an exact replica of the electoral areas that started the California recall. You can replicate that map in red states versus blue states. The entire party has devolved into a Dunning-Kruger death cult.

Unskilled and Unaware of It: How Difficulties in Recognizing One's Own Incompetence Lead to Inflated Self-Assessments, Justin Kruger and David Dunning, Cornell University

Abstract

People tend to hold overly favorable views of their abilities in many social and intellectual domains. The authors suggest that this overestimation occurs, in part, because people who are unskilled in these domains suffer a dual burden: Not only do these people reach erroneous conclusions and make unfortunate choices, but their incompetence robs them of the metacognitive ability to realize it. Across 4 studies, the authors found that participants scoring in the bottom quartile on tests of humor, grammar, and logic grossly overestimated their test performance and ability. Although their test scores put them in the 12th percentile, they estimated themselves to be in the 62nd. Several analyses linked this miscalibration to deficits in metacognitive skill, or the capacity to distinguish accuracy from error. Paradoxically, improving the skills of participants, and thus increasing their metacognitive competence, helped them recognize the limitations of their abilities.

After Watergate, the right deliberately designed an echo chamber to tell itself everything they wanted to hear: good, not bad, propaganda not history, fiction, not reality. Karl Rove told reporter Ron Suskind: "The aide said that guys like me were 'in what we call the reality-based community,' which he defined as people who 'believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality.' [...] 'That's not the way the world really works anymore,' he continued. 'We're an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you're studying that reality—judiciously, as you will—we'll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that's how things will sort out. We're history's actors...and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do.'" There is a district in Texas that every two years, consciously reelects Louie Gohmert to the US House of Representatives, the "disparage my asparagus" former judge, and lawyer. Nonplussed initially, Former Attorney General Eric Holder responded with the sickest burn a year later in 2014: "good luck with your asparagus."

North Carolina US Republican Representative Madison Cawthorne crashed a school board meeting in Henderson, NC to troll Governor Roy Cooper about masks. Key point: he wasn't there. Couple that with his abysmal grades the one year he attended college, at this point, I cannot take him, or the rest of his party seriously. I may not have been a fan of Ronald Reagan, but Reaganism stood for something; Trumpism is sadistic Seinfeld. They're all white grievance minstrels, performance artists, professional trolls, and nihilists. "Owning the libs" is all they live for. The asylum inmates running for office currently are mean-girl teenagers running on the population, and likes of their Instagram and Twitter accounts. Their platform is an empty wagon: making a lot of noise, and doing nothing.

"Idiocracy" did not take 500 years of political Entropy: it just took the desperation of a party that sees its power waning, and is clinging to power at all cost, even if that wage paid is the republic.

“The fundamental cause of the trouble is that in the modern world the stupid are cocksure while the intelligent are full of doubt.”
― Bertrand Russell

 

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De Facto Secession...

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How We Got Here: A timeline of the removal of the Lee monument, NBC12 on your side.

 

Topics: Civics, Civil Rights, COVID-19, Democracy, Fascism, History, Human Rights

 

Fourteenth Amendment
Section 3
No Person shall be a Senator or Representative in Congress, or elector of President and Vice-President, or hold any office, civil or military, under the United States, or under any State, who, having previously taken an oath, as a member of Congress, or as an officer of the United States, or as a member of any State legislature, or as an executive or judicial officer of any State, to support the Constitution of the United States, shall have engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the same, or given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof. But Congress may by a vote of two-thirds of each House, remove such disability.

 

Constitution.Congress.gov/Amendment 14/Section 3

If Section Three of the Fourteenth Amendment had been followed, no statue of a traitorous general would exist on Virginia's Monument Avenue to take down.

The first "Big Lie" was the lost cause narrative that made saints of sinners, heroes of traitors. The unfortunate assassination of President Lincoln left us with his Democrat (the conservative party at the time) successor, Raleigh, North Carolina native Andrew Johnson that pulled the troops protecting newly freed African Americans, gave cover to domestic terrorists like the Ku Klux Klan, and de facto inaugurated Jim Crow.

The first "Big Lie" erected totems in a fever-pitch construction project to NOT face the consequences of losing the Civil War. The "lost cause" was proffered by the Daughters of the Confederacy. The north was "aggressors" that invaded the south because of "their way of life": owning [human] chattel.

Georgia

The people of Georgia having dissolved their political connection with the Government of the United States of America, present to their confederates and the world the causes which have led to the separation. For the last ten years, we have had numerous and serious causes of complaint against our non-slave-holding confederate States with reference to the subject of African slavery. They have endeavored to weaken our security, to disturb our domestic peace and tranquility, and persistently refused to comply with their express constitutional obligations to us in reference to that property, and by the use of their power in the Federal Government have striven to deprive us of equal enjoyment of the common Territories of the Republic.

Mississippi

A Declaration of the Immediate Causes which Induce and Justify the Secession of the State of Mississippi from the Federal Union.

In the momentous step which our State has taken of dissolving its connection with the government of which we so long formed a part, it is but just that we should declare the prominent reasons which have induced our course.

Our position is thoroughly identified with the institution of slavery-- the greatest material interest of the world. Its labor supplies the product which constitutes by far the largest and most important portions of commerce of the earth. These products are peculiar to the climate verging on the tropical regions, and by an imperious law of nature, none but the black race can bear exposure to the tropical sun. These products have become necessities of the world, and a blow at slavery is a blow at commerce and civilization.

Battlefields.org: The Declaration of Causes of Seceding States (Georgia, Mississippi, South Carolina, Texas, Virginia)

"Big Lies" metastasize, mutate: grow. Like the Coronavirus, if a vaccine is not discovered, if the truth does not curse the darkness of willful ignorance, it will find paths of lethality.

According to Battlefields.org, the Civil War cost an estimated 620,000 Union and Confederate soldiers.

The 1918 Flu Pandemic cost 675,000 in the US, and 50 million worldwide.

The current once-in-a-century apocalypse is 4,619,721 worldwide, 674,515 in the US. We have blown past the Civil War. We will exceed the 1918 pandemic before Thanksgiving.

A "march" next Saturday will celebrate a mob hellbent on overturning an election as "patriots." The Capitol Police has monitored, and seen credible online traffic suggesting violence. One point: the Million Man March in 1995, led by Louis Farrakhan did not result in violence, bear spray, deaths, or police officer suicide.

The unvaccinated are the offspring of the first "Big Lie," making possible the second lie, and its afterbirth, insurrection, and likely insurgency. Lies unchallenged lead to death: Fox Propaganda pushed ivermectin - a de-wormer for horses, cattle, dogs, and ironically: sheep - over a safe vaccine that has proven itself to save lives.

The Forty-Sixth President of the United States will commemorate the twentieth anniversary of 9/11 by visiting the sites of the attack in Washington, DC, Pennsylvania, and New York in a solemn ceremony. The loser of the 2020 election, lamenting the removal of a traitor's statue on Monument Avenue, so needy of attention that he cannot "fade away" will with his equally nauseous, narcissistic hellspawn, who couldn't stay married to the mother of his five children "comment" on an Evander Holyfield demonstration match. No one can enjoy the performance of a preening popinjay except psychopaths. "Hail to the thief."

I’ve lived 55 years in the South, and I grew up liking the Confederate flag. I haven’t flown one for many decades, but for a reason that might surprise you.

I know the South well. We lived wherever the Marine Corps stationed my father: Georgia, Virginia, the Carolinas. As a child, my favorite uncle wasn’t in the military, but he did pack a .45 caliber Thompson submachine gun in his trunk. He was a leader in the Ku Klux Klan. Despite my role models, as a kid, I was an inept racist. I got in trouble once in the first grade for calling a classmate the N-word. But he was Hispanic.

As I grew up and acquired the strange sensation called empathy (strange for boys anyway), I learned that for black folks the flutter of that flag felt like a poke in the eye with a sharp stick. And for the most prideful flag waivers, clearly, that response was the point. I mean, come on. It’s a battle flag.

What the flag symbolizes for blacks is enough reason to take it down. But there’s another reason that white southerners shouldn’t fly it. Or sport it on our state-issued license plates as some do here in North Carolina. The Confederacy – and the slavery that spawned it – was also one big con job on the Southern, white, working class. A con job funded by some of the antebellum one-per-centers continues today in a similar form.

You don’t have to be an economist to see that forcing blacks – a third of the South’s laborers – to work without pay drove down wages for everyone else. And not just in agriculture. A quarter of enslaved blacks worked in the construction, manufacturing, and lumbering trades; cutting wages even for skilled white workers.

The Confederacy was a con job on whites. And still is. By Frank Hyman

"If you're black, you were born in jail, in the North as well as the South. Stop talking about the South. [As] long as you are south of the Canadian border, you're [in the] south." Malcolm X, "The Ballot or The Bullet (Detroit Version)". Malcolm X's speech at a meeting sponsored by the Congress for Racial Equality in Detroit, Michigan, April 12, 1964.

"Big Lies" metastasize, mutate: grow. "Big Lies" cause secessions, historical, or de facto through denial of history, science, climate change, vaccines, the age of the earth, or the universe. "Big Lies" cause insurrections: 1861, and 2021. "Big Lies" is the result of cowardice in not facing who we have been in our history, and thus be surprised at where we as a nation are going. "Big Lies" drive fearful citizens in Appalachia to alcoholism, obesity, opioid addiction. Fear of an uncertain future leads to fascism in rural America, longing for the "good old days" that for people of color, never existed. "Big Lies" halt the 2020 Census to the chagrin that the demographic time bomb set when this nation needed free, and low-wage workers to practice their especially sadistic, and brutal kind of capitalism are Chaucer and Malcolm's "chickens that have come home to roost."

"Big Lies" drive out-of-work coal miners in West Virginia or Kentucky, and the ever-changing, and diversifying South to put their hopes in a reality show carnival barker, six bankruptcy, five deferments, fake bone spurs, failed fake universities, crumbling real estate empire magnate from New York City. "Big Lies" is suicidal for a republic.

If there is a lesson in all of this it is that our Constitution is neither a self-actuating nor a self-correcting document. It requires the constant attention and devotion of all citizens. There is a story, often told, that upon exiting the Constitutional Convention Benjamin Franklin was approached by a group of citizens asking what sort of government the delegates had created. His answer was: "A republic if you can keep it." The brevity of that response should not cause us to undervalue its essential meaning: democratic republics are not merely founded upon the consent of the people, they are also absolutely dependent upon the active and informed involvement of the people for their continued good health.

Perspectives on The Constitution: "A republic, if you can keep it," By Richard R. Beeman, Ph.D.

 

 

 

 

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Stupidity Exhaustion...

 

Topics: Civics, Civil Rights, Climate Change, Democracy, Existentialism, Fascism

 

"Against stupidity, the very gods themselves contend in vain." Friedrich Schiller

 

“Stupidity is a more dangerous enemy of the good than malice. One may protest against evil; it can be exposed and, if need be, prevented by use of force. Evil always carries within itself the germ of its own subversion in that it leaves behind in human beings at least a sense of unease. Against stupidity, we are defenseless. Neither protests nor the use of force accomplish anything here; reasons fall on deaf ears; facts that contradict one’s prejudgment simply need not be believed – in such moments, the stupid person even becomes critical – and when facts are irrefutable, they are just pushed aside as inconsequential, as incidental. In all this, the stupid person, in contrast to the malicious one, is utterly self-satisfied and, being easily irritated, becomes dangerous by going on the attack. For that reason, greater caution is called for when dealing with a stupid person than with a malicious one. Never again will we try to persuade the stupid person with reasons, for it is senseless and dangerous.”

 

Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Letters and Papers from Prison

 

One of the Republican candidates in the obtuse recall election of Gavin Newsome, Larry Elder, admitted he didn't have the temperament to be Governor: he is the frontrunner due to name recognition as a conservative talk show host. “If someone tells you who they are the first time, believe them.” Dr. Maya Angelou. This is 2016 redux: even if he loses (which, for California's sake, I hope he does), he's getting absolutely FREE publicity. Flattery and narcissism gave us four years of incompetence, greater than 600,000 dead Americans, and dysfunctional, dystopian governance. Elder isn't stupid: he has a Juris doctorate. He's apparently violent, brandishing a weapon to threaten his ex-fiancé (smart woman). He is a callous opportunist who, like his orange muse, doesn't care about the damage his decisions would have on his state if he were to win the governorship. He would copy the stupidity of Greg Abbott, trying to block voters that look like him, prohibit mask, and vaccine mandates, open beaches to offshore drilling, and revoke any environmental protections. The current exodus from California would be put on steroids.

 

We've had four years of "sweeping the forest" to manage climate change, drinking bleach, or shining flashlights up our rectums to find the COVID, and now, ivermectin instead of vaccines, deworming, instead of leeches and swamp roots, perhaps? There are fires burning acres in California, flooding in New York subways, Philly streets, and tornadoes in New Jersey. After Hurricane Katrina, Hurricane Ida came sixteen years to the DAY, and the most consequential nation that could do something about climate change did NOTHING.

 

In other words, we have serious problems to consider that will ensure the survival of the human species and life on THIS planet. Ignoring climate change has only exacerbated its effects. We've ignored it since 1979 when the fossil fuels industry knew about the effects of their product. Their action was to hire the same law firms that obfuscated the effects of cigarette smoking. Instead of terraforming Mars, we should try terraforming Earth.

 

Neither did Texas remotely think about deputizing citizens to narc on women who might want to get a Constitutionally protected right to abortion due to incest, sexual assault, or the mother's health and zygote being compromised. "Deputizing citizens" means anyone on planet Earth getting $10,000 for suing doctors, nurses, clinics, partners, relatives, Uber drivers. "Deputizing citizens" is what this nation did to catch fugitive slaves. What if a blue state made it a crime to own a firearm? The 5-4 precedent made "the rule of law" in a nation that used to pride itself on that oxymoronic. How is this the common good? How is this E Pluribus Unum? The Republic of Texas, after midnight Tuesday, started looking like the Republic of Gilead. Flights out to relocate women should be arranged with the same urgency we evacuated Afghanistan. Athletic events, sports, tourism will take a hit. No one visited Chile during the rule of Augusto Pinochet, nor are few interested in traveling to North Korea to visit Kim Jong Un. Assholes aren't good for economies.

 

The state of Texas Republicans did not think twice about restricting voting rights for BIPOC: black, indigenous, people of color, the young, the aged, the invalid. A sign at the border on IH-10: "drive friendly, the Texas way" should likely receive an edit. They follow Florida in COVID-19 caseloads, and their hospitals are overflowing. The priority of the "family values" party is power, not babies or democracy.

 

There is exhaustion dealing with stupid people. By stupid, I do mean they fall into two camps: one is callously ambitious, saying what "plays to the crowd" for the advantage of seizing power. But like the dog that catches the car or Wil E. Coyote catches the Road Runner, they don't quite know what to do with the goal once it's attained. In other words, the chase was all that mattered. The other camp is the most terrifying: the Dunning-Kruger cultists, or people so convinced of their "greatness," so enamored with their superiority; you'd have a better chance of lecturing to a canyon; stone walls absorb more information. D-Ks cannot be rationalized with; D-Ks cannot be convinced. They will wear you down by a consistent drumbeat of drivel. It doesn't have to make sense, and that's the point!

 

Editorial boards used to exist in newspapers once read widely. They still do, but the advent of social media diminished their powers. Editors would peruse your words for grammar, diction, paragraph length, and LOGIC. It was an honor to be published in "letters to the editor" and a means to build up your writer's clips in the old school.

 

Social media has no editorial board, except for AI that applies moribund rules that make absolutely no sense (case-in-point: the septuagenarian Twitter adolescent that got his privileges revoked after so much damage and misinformation DROPPED 73% when his accounts were revoked). The more outrageous, the more misspelled it was; it didn't matter as long as it goes "viral," which wasn't a thing before the medium.

 

An entire party has emerged from the comment section of Facebook posts. "Owning the libs" is the only organizing ethos. Conservative intellectuals like Bill Krystal, Mike Lofgren, and George Will left the party that did not get better with the advent of Sarah Palin. A race-to-the-bottom led to the Chief Executive of incompetence and the governors of Texas and Florida cloning his ghoulish body count. They are speaking to the Dunning-Kruger, mask fighting, vaccine, and science-denying crowd. They are racing for the brass ring of dumbed down. Their orange, sandaled Golden Calf spoke to the Dunning-Kruger crowd because he IS them.

 

Trolls, like gremlins, should not be fed after midnight. That, unfortunately, happened in Texas. They have awakened a sleeping giant of women voters.

 

The 2018 tsunami continues in 2022, 2024, and perhaps, saves a republic.

 

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Timeline source: Key Media Solutions: "The Reverse Evolution of Social Media Platforms"

 

Topics: Civics, Civil Rights, Fascism, Human Rights, Politics, Star Trek

 

What happens when media and politics become forms of entertainment? As our world begins to look more and more like Orwell’s 1984, Neil’s Postman’s essential guide to the modern media is more relevant than ever.

“It’s unlikely that Trump has ever read Amusing Ourselves to Death, but his ascent would not have surprised Postman.” –CNN

 

Originally published in 1985, Neil Postman’s groundbreaking polemic about the corrosive effects of television on our politics and public discourse has been hailed as a twenty-first-century book published in the twentieth century. Now, with television joined by more sophisticated electronic media—from the Internet to cell phones to DVDs—it has taken on even greater significance. Amusing Ourselves to Death is a prophetic look at what happens when politics, journalism, education, and even religion become subject to the demands of entertainment. It is also a blueprint for regaining control of our media so that they can serve our highest goals.

 

“A brilliant, powerful, and important book. This is an indictment that Postman has laid down and, so far as I can see, an irrefutable one.” –Jonathan Yardley, The Washington Post Book World

 

Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Showbusiness, Neil Postman, Penguin Random House

The "corrosive effects of television" Dr. Postman's polemic critiqued was [ironically], CNN, launched June 1, 1980, on a television executive's "big idea."

 

Movies like the Rocky Horror Picture Show and Star Wars became cult classics because as long as customers were buying tickets and popcorn, theater owners would play the show for months, and in the case of the two mentioned, each over a year. Ted Turner's "big idea" was inspired by the creation of HBO: Home Box Office. It was the single, and only cable entertainment that expanded Hollywood's earning power, as measured by Nielsen ratings. It was unique as most television stations ended their day's programming at midnight, and so did HBO, initially. Mission creep extended their air time to twenty-four hours. "Saturday Night Live" -- essentially, an improv show was crafted for night owls, as it tiptoed past that demarcation point, by design. Ted would develop a 24-hour news service of "infotainment." The Nielsen altar gods needed satisfaction and a gimmick.

 

I always thought infotainment was coined by actor, and filmmaker Mario Van Peeples, but its origin was as a pejorative: "soft" news, versus hard, serious news. At a joint conference in the UK for media academicians, the infotainers put on comedy skits from 1980 - 1990 in their gatherings. The madness became a method as it's obviously been copied on either of the cable news outlets that cloned themselves on Ted Turner's model. We evolved from a nation that went from President Richard Nixon winning forty-nine out of fifty states, thereby becoming the first Republican to sweep the south with his "Law and Order" shtick post-Kent State and the violence at the Democratic National Convention, to the reality that he would be impeached in the House, and likely convicted in the Senate by members of his party due to the Watergate break-ins. It was the sober digestion of information from ABC, CBS, NBC -- noncable, pre-infotainment outlets, by an "informed citizenry" regarding the culpability of a criminal president, a president that many had voted for.

Star Trek: Enterprise premiered on September 26, 2001. Due to its unfortunate timing fifteen days after 9/11, and theme of a hopeful future, as well as the former CBS president Les Moonves' stated aversion to science fiction, ended after four seasons. His helm at CBS imploded with a sex scandal thanks to #MeToo movement accountability.

"24": I've only seen two episodes, and my casual observation is Kiefer Sutherland as Jack Bauer reasonably kept audiences on edge. The show entered the national zeitgeist in 2001: In a post-Vietnam, post-9/11 world, we needed some heroes, Tom Clancy novels were the water cooler conversation rage, Sly Stallone in Rocky version 17, or Rambo; Arnold Schwarzenegger in just about anything: we were itching for some ass to kick. Dennis Haysbert introduced the idea of an African American president before Barack Obama appeared on the scene, then all of a sudden, it wasn't a good idea beyond fantasy and Nielsen ratings. The show ran from 2001 - 2010. Liz Cheney is lionized for upholding The Constitution since the January 6, 2021 insurrection, but her dad fantasized he was a character on 24, Jack Bauer maybe, or Jack Ryan from Tom Clancy novels. In our discernment between reality and fantasy, we were collectively "jacked." The intersection between information and entertainment might have impacted her dad's decisions that led to launching a 20-year war in Afghanistan, prior to which the Taliban offered Osama Bin Laden (but war makes more money than justice); lying about, or "sexing up" intelligence about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, destabilizing that nation birthing ISIS, and the atrocities at Abu Ghraib, and Guantanamo. Lawmakers on both sides profit mightily from world instability, not world peace. But we live in reality, not a cartoon.

What South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem is doing, what Texas Governor Greg Abbot is doing, what Florida Governor Ron DeSantis is doing, what Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson was doing, the lamentations of Alabama Governor Kay Ivey-post her lifting mask orders and encouraging "common sense," is the multigenerational poisoning of "whiteness," where, in a self-fictitious story, every move you make works out; every conclusion is Pollyannaish with white picket fences: the "good guys" (you) always "win" at the end of a bloodless cartoon, roll credits. This alternative, fact-free non-reality isn't five-dimensional chess: it's a societal dissociative disorder. It's the aftermath of centuries of lying to one's selves and preferring the lie over the truth. Pollyannaish vision is why after 20 years and trillions of dollars, we're shocked that our efforts in Afghanistan, or Iraq didn't work, that "when they stand up, we'll stand down" was always an empty slogan. Not facing the realities of a deadly pandemic, and its to-be-announced future Greek letter variants because of "free dumb" is figuratively, and literally a "no-brainer."

Apocalypse: It's a great title to a movie, story, supervillain, or blog post. It literally means "to uncover," or "to reveal." Biblical tradition translates and assigns it to the entire last book of the sacred text. Barbara Rossing tried to reclaim the negative interpretation of doom-and-gloom from evangelicals in her 2005 book "The Rapture Exposed." She saw this interpretation as dangerous, and lending to the United States engaging in risky international actions that could lead to Mutually Assured Destruction, or totally ignore climate change as a problem that will be solved only by the Second Coming. Fatalism like this led to our actions in Afghanistan, and Iraq. Pollyannaish viewpoints like this "kick the can down the road" to the next presidential administration, trillions of dollars wasted on corruption in Kabul that could have been invested in roads, education; universal healthcare in the US. Former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is an example of the peril of someone in power taking our continued existence for granted, and that "their side" will be the ones to survive. Not many former Secretaries of State have ever been called "doomsday clowns."

All Americans, Native Americans, African Americans, Asian Americans, Hispanic Americans, LGBTQ Americans, Women, immigrants are being affected by the anti-democratic efforts of Republican legislatures to either pick the voters they want to be counted or if elections don't quite go their way, THROW out the results! Dr. King referred to that as "interposition, and nullification." The reason Democrats pass symbolic bills in the House named for John Lewis, or the "For the People Act" is because they KNOW they will die in the Senate. The filibuster has been adjusted, carved out, flipped, manipulated for less than our ability to call ourselves a federal republic than for billionaire Oligarchs' tax cuts. Both parties are invested in the "status quo." It is ghoulish. It needs to change, our leadership needs to change, or our continuance as a country, as a human species, is in serious question.

I hope this post is a revelation, and with its act of uncovering and facing reality, we take different actions. I'm sure that was the whole intent of Dr. Neil Postman's warnings of simply cable; before social media proliferated; before phone apps were invented, before our news outlets consolidated, and morphed into self-deluding echo chambers kowtowing to Nielsen ratings, before politicians became craven liars in stark evidence of insurrection, and would rather rule over a smoldering ruin of feces than serve in an actual democracy. Our nation and the world deserve better.

Our nation and the world get better when "we the people" demand better.

Nolite te bastardes carborundorum, Margaret Atwood, "The Handmaid's Tale": Don't let the bastards grind you down. Demonstrate. Protest. Vote.

 

 

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Critical Thinking...

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Damien G Jackaman, Facebook

 

Topics: Civics, Civil Rights, Existentialism, Fascism, Human Rights

 

A statement by Michael Scriven & Richard Paul, presented at the 8th Annual International Conference on Critical Thinking and Education Reform, Summer 1987.

 

Critical thinking is the intellectually disciplined process of actively and skillfully conceptualizing, applying, analyzing, synthesizing, and/or evaluating information gathered from, or generated by, observation, experience, reflection, reasoning, or communication, as a guide to belief and action. In its exemplary form, it is based on universal intellectual values that transcend subject matter divisions: clarity, accuracy, precision, consistency, relevance, sound evidence, good reasons, depth, breadth, and fairness.

 

The Foundation For Critical Thinking: Defining Critical Thinking

 

Matthew Taylor Coleman, 40, is charged with two counts of foreign murder of a United States national in the slaying of his 2-year-old son and 10-month-old daughter. He is accused of shooting them with a spearfishing gun on Monday in Rosarito — a beach community 30 minutes south of Tijuana, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

 

Coleman runs the Lovewater Surf Co., a surfing school based in Santa Barbara, and is an alumnus of Point Loma Nazarene University in San Diego, according to the company’s website.

 

Coleman told FBI agents he killed his children by shooting a spear into their chests, explaining that he had been “enlightened by QAnon and Illuminati conspiracy theories” and “believed he was saving the world from monsters,” according to an affidavit in support of the complaint.

 

Santa Barbara surfer dad ‘enlightened by QAnon’ to kill his kids, feds say, Wendy Fry, San Diego Union-Tribune

 

Then, there was this: A fraternity brother sent me a Messenger video: "The Vaccine Itself is Dangerous! Please listen." The word vaccine was spelled with "V (o_9) cc," or an emoji. That makes it legit, right?

 

My response: "I’ve had the vaccine, and so has my family. I’m not magnetic, I don’t have a chip inside of me (except Sun Chip Garden Salsa). As a doctoral student, I have to take and pass EIGHT safely classes annually, specifically now centered on COVID-19 to work in my research facility. I’m not going to listen to this brother, respectfully."

 

His qualifier for the videographer? She was a young lady he met in passing, whom he found to be very attractive. "No sir I'm not taking anyone's word and I'm not taking anyone's vaccine, my brother from another mother. And, if your job requires it, I think they're infringing on your civil liberties. But I say this again my brother, know exactly what you have put in your body."

 

I pointed out he didn't know the ingredients of what he eats in a restaurant. He retorted he did, and it was a fellow frat that revealed his recipe secrets. He, of course, left out the fact that there are other restaurants ON THE PLANET he's probably patronized, and every chef in every restaurant is not going to be that forthcoming.

 

Me: "Do you have a stop sign or a speed limit on your street? Ever heard of 'no shirt, no shoes, no service?' How did those things NOT violate your 'civil liberties?' The only people I encounter that know nothing about civil liberties, or civics are libertarians. Fun fact: there aren’t any countries that follow libertarian philosophy. There might be a good reason why."

 

That was the end of it. I blocked him. I guess I'll see him at the convention (maybe).

 

From medical professionals being threatened by parents that somehow think "freedom" (rhymes with "free dumb") is more important than keeping their kids from being intubated or dying, to my fraternity brother accepting info from a pretty passing face, as a nation, we're bereft not only in civics but critical thinking. We're at the end of a fifty-year campaign of gaslighting that started with the 1971 Powell memo. Summarized excellently by Thom Hartmann, it's a corporate reaction to Rachel Carson's "Silent Spring," DDT, and avoiding environmental catastrophe, leading to cigarettes-not-causing-lung-cancer disinformation, continued with fossil fuel industry obfuscations on climate change since the 1970s; launched 10 years later by Ronald Reagan with his famous "government is the problem" inauguration speech, culminating in the current "American Carnage" we're all living through. We've gotten used to lying to ourselves: our nation's full history with all its brutality, mistakes, scars, and being lied to. We're all primed to likely take advice from a pretty stranger passing in a stairwell that you might want to date or a social media post that conforms and confirms your internal biases.

 

The abject stupidity of this moment is by design; it does not lead to a stable republic.

 

"One of the things taken out of the curriculum was civics," Zappa went on to explain. "Civics was a class that used to be required before you could graduate from high school. You were taught what was in the U.S. Constitution. And after all the student rebellions in the Sixties, civics was banished from the student curriculum and was replaced by something called social studies. Here we live in a country that has a fabulous constitution and all these guarantees, a contract between the citizens and the government – nobody knows what's in it. And so, if you don't know what your rights are, how can you stand up for them? And furthermore, if you don't know what's in the document, how can you care if someone is shredding it?"

 

"Notes From the Dangerous Kitchen," a review and a quote from Frank Zappa, Critics at Large

 

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Reckoning, or Ragnarok...

 

Topics: Civics, Civil Rights, COVID-19, Existentialism, Fascism, Human Rights

 

I read Mary Trump's book "Too Much, and Never Enough," feeling a chill when in the epilogue she predicted: "my uncle is going to get a lot of people killed." Realize, when those words were typed on presumably her laptop, she, and all of us were not wearing masks, washing hands, or standing six feet from each other in public places. Our garden-variety doomsday centered on mushroom clouds, and nuclear codes. I have preordered "Reckoning."

 

The fetishization of guns in America, the violence in popular entertainment, online and streaming, the rationalization of every gory and gruesome mass killing has left the public numb, and conditioned to death on a massive scale. It is no wonder we're so nonchalant about the Coronavirus: "they probably had to die of something" -- this is systemic sadism.

 

Governor Asa Hutchinson in Arkansas looked so nonplussed at the lectern as he tried to explain to his constituents that he had been wrong to sign an anti-mask executive order, that he was beyond just "owning the libs." With the Delta variant, and Delta plus up to bat in South Korea, conditions on the ground had decisively changed. The fact that they were shouting the latest conspiracy theories gleaned from the Internet shouldn't have surprised him: he was the source of their original gaslighting. Alabama Governor Kay Ivey admitted the unvaccinated are making the pandemic more prolonged, and worse, without a shred of guilt at her previous anti-mask stance, or irony. Leave it to Death Santis to double-down, despite falling poll numbers. His go-to stance: attack Biden, pivot to brown migrants on the border; hope for racism. He's really using that Harvard law degree.

 

You can't have reparations without a reckoning.

 

According to Jacqueline Battalora, MD, JD, in "Birth of a White Nation: The Invention of White People and Its Relevance Today," white people became an official thing in America in 1681. Dr. Gerald Horne makes similar points in his book "Race to Revolution: The U.S. and Cuba during Slavery and Jim Crow." Prior to this legislative fiat, Europeans knew each other by their home nations, in essence, their tribes. The European continent was soaked in the blood, not of Moors, but other Europeans. America organized American society as "us," and "them," the civilized, and the savages, the "correct" ethos to enslave the kidnapped, and genocide the native. It's the perfect crime that has turned a profit for a small family of the wealthy for four centuries, the "vast sucking sound," to coin a phrase from Ross Perot. All they have to do is keep us at each other's throats. We now have the pejorative “RINOs,” and “DINOs,” when an earlier descriptor labeled such politicians “moderates.” There were litmus tests of loyalty to tribes driven by cults of personality, but tribesmen didn't make laws, moderates did. It’s how things got done, or euphemistically “how the sausage got made.”

 

We need to teach beyond the poetry of "Manifest Destiny," that the expansion and founding of the United States were for a created class: American oligarchs. They initially just didn't want to pay taxes to their benefactor, England. Thomas Paine clarified and made the reasons to break away from Europe profound, and noble, but his progressive ideas like equal education for men, and women, a progressive income tax, welfare for the poor, and the canard that could unravel the budding dominant world economy: he opposed slavery. It's probably why you haven't heard a thing about him.

 

Without a reckoning, there can be no healing, no atonement, or reconciliation. Without a reckoning of January 6, there can be no justice, and the "rule of law" is meaningless. Without a reckoning, the attempted coup was practice for the next. There can be no reckoning without accurate history. Eighteen states have passed interposition, and nullification laws to keep black, indigenous people of color (BIPOC) from exercising the voting franchise, in addition to overturning elections whose outcomes they don't like. If Republicans don't want to be called fascists, they should stop acting like them.

 

A reckoning will enable the next reconstruction since the first one after the Civil War was interrupted by white supremacy; the second - 1964 Civil Rights Act, 1965 Voting Rights Act, 1968 Fair Housing Act - by a relentless, fifty-year right-wing backlash. History told right tends to make readers uncomfortable, but information can and should change the reader or student for the better. Showing our flaws, and blemishes should make us strive to do better, not hide our past that can easily be sourced within a few clicks, our hypocrisy laid bare.

 

The future is mist and mystery. It doesn't exist, except for the decisions we make today. One of those is what the fictional Vulcans of Star Trek called O'thia: reality-truth. For us to build the future, we have to reckon with our past, our real past, where we’re not always the heroes of a mythologized story we’ve gaslighted over four centuries.

 

Reckoning: the action or process of calculating or estimating something; the moment of truth.

Ragnarok: the final destruction of the world in the conflict between the Aesir and the powers of Hel led by Loki, the god of lies and chaos — also called Twilight of the Gods.

 

Without true reckoning, there is only Ragnarok.

 

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Survival of Community...

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Topics: Civics, Civil Rights, Climate Change, COVID-19, Environment, Existentialism

Like his more famous contemporary, Spencer was enamored with the idea of evolution. But where Darwin focused on biology, Spencer imagined that evolutionary thinking could be applied much more broadly. In his mind, it governed entire societies. Today, when Spencer is remembered at all, it is usually for inspiring the ideology known as “social Darwinism”: roughly, the idea that the successful deserve their success while those who fail, deserve their failure.

Modern scholars, and the public at large, understandably view this idea with disdain. Philosopher Daniel Dennett has described social Darwinism as “an odious misapplication of Darwinian thinking in defense of political doctrines that range from callous to heinous,” while the journalist Robert Wright said that social Darwinism “now lies in the dustbin of intellectual history.” Today, few read Spencer’s dense and ponderous books, and his ideas are rarely taught. Gregory Claeys, a historian at the University of London, writes that of all the great Victorian thinkers, it is Spencer whose “reputation has now indisputably fallen the farthest.”

Spencer’s view, though mostly anathema now, appealed to influential conservatives and laissez-faire capitalists—among them, the industrialist Andrew Carnegie—just as it angered the socialists of the time. “Spencer hated socialism because he thought socialism was all about protecting the weak,” Lightman says. “To him, that was intervening in the natural unfolding of the evolutionary process.”

The Complicated Legacy of Herbert Spencer, the Man Who Coined ‘Survival of the Fittest’, Dan Falk, Smithsonian Magazine

According to Michael Price in Science Magazine, humans changed from hunter-gatherer (and presumably, wanderer) to communal living about 10,000 years ago. We seemed to vacillate between extremes, and each time, our back-and-forth switch could be traced through the common house mouse (like it or not, we appear stuck with them). Whether we wandered about or gathered harvests, we seemed to fair better with less Ayn Randian selfish worldviews, and more indigenous communal living philosophies.

An article published on the website Earthday.org is more explicit:

Humans and climate change are driving species to extinction at unprecedented rates. To slow or eventually reverse these declines, we need to better manage our land to preserve habitats and secure biodiversity – the variety of life on Earth. To that end, a study published this week confirms what many communities have known for years: To preserve biodiversity, we must turn to indigenous peoples for guidance and management.

The study, published in the journal Environmental Science and Policy, compared levels of biodiversity in thousands of areas in Australia, Brazil, and Canada and was the first of its kind to compare biodiversity and land management on such a large scale. Researchers from the University of British Columbia (UBC) compared 15,621 geotropical areas across three continents, with great variations across climate, species, and geography.

To Save The Planet, We Need Indigenous Perspectives, Earth Day, 2019

We have been ravaged by climate events since Hurricane Katrina in 2005, and have ignored them all. Ebola was the first epidemic we paid attention to and mitigated at its point of origin so that only two Americans died from it. It is therefore unconscionable that the current death toll of the Coronavirus is 623,353, as of this writing. It's likely to be higher when this post appears. 675,000 died during the 1918 flu pandemic. We're not far behind.

Speaking of Ayn Rand: the main idea of "The Fountainhead" was individualism vs. collectivism, or selfishness, versus community. Also, in "Atlas Shrugged," so beloved that former Congressman, and conspiracy theorist Ron Paul and presumably his wife named their son, Senator Rand Paul. "Shrugged" was about "a dystopian United States in which private businesses suffer under increasingly burdensome laws and regulations." "Looters" want to exploit the productivity of innovative industrialists has the not-too-subtle echo of "makers," and "takers."

GOP "leader," Kevin McCarthy saying "85% of Congress is fully vaccinated," so he says, we have no need for a mask mandate in the House. That declaration is a Freudian slip: that means 15% of 435 members of the House, or 65 members are unvaccinated by choice. 435 members of the House go back home sometimes, and presumably, many to Delta variant hot spots. The variant could then be weaponized on Capitol Hill where many of our lawmakers are in their seventies and eighties. The Delta variant can cause "breakthrough infections," and most of the hospitalizations and deaths are from the unvaccinated. There are also long-haul COVID survivors, the severe ones will put a strain on public resources for rehabilitation, and lifetime care. Again, those 65 can carry the Delta variant back to the House, and turn Capitol Hill into a COVID hot spot. With the 1/6 hearings just starting, it might be a cynical, pathological ploy to delay or demolish any hearings on the terrorist insurrection going forward. Only sociopaths could be so diabolical.

Ten thousand years ago, it might have been prudent to identify someone by their tribal markings, dress, and appearance. If you "did not fit in," there were no diversity, equity, and inclusion programs, only suspicion. "Fight, or flight" was wonderful against saber-tooth tigers, but terrible trying to espouse the tenets of a philosophy centered on E Pluribus Unum.

Borders are political constructs, just like race is a social construct. We are the byproduct of migration from the African continent to other areas, and adaption over hundreds of thousands of years. We look different because of the angle of incidence of ultraviolet light, the environment encountered, and the foods we consumed in those environs. We all for the most part have five fingers, five toes, and red blood in our veins. We all have the same needs on the Maslow hierarchy. It's why the Overview effect has such a profound impact on the viewers, but 7.6 billion inhabitants don't have a spare $250,000 for a ten-minute joy ride. The eviction moratorium expires Saturday, with no further extension. I don't think soon-to-be homeless people will care for an Overview effect.

It has to be in our best interest to help developing countries and industrial countries with vaccination rates: every nation has to get to 70% herd immunity, or higher for the safety of the species. If there's one hot spot in the world, there's the possibility of many variants spreading across the globe. It has to be in our best interest to mitigate climate change, and if past the tipping point, or politically not expedient, design our civilization's infrastructure to withstand the storms, power outages, freak winter freezes, floods, and raging fires.

Octavia Butler was an African American science fiction writer that didn't envision starships, except the relativistic kind. Her "Parable of the Sower" did predict a dystopic America devastated by climate change, social unrest, water scarcity, but apparently, in all that dysfunction, in2024 we land on Mars, and discovered microbial life there. We are three years from the date of that fictional nightmare. In the midst of that eerily prescient novel, and series, there was a rediscovery of community, of people helping people, protecting one another.

Social media is a faux community; it has atomized humanity in echo silos. We were prepped for this when television and entertainment became "infotainment," a bastardization, and a pariah to the body politic. BET, CMT, MTV is owned by Viacom, and caters to different audiences, cable news preceded it, and its digital extension is the oxymoron "social media" as humans stare blankly at their smartphones sucking time, and brain cells.

There is vaccine hesitancy among African Americans, decades stinging from the Tuskegee experiment. There is vaccine hesitancy from those who erroneously believe vaccines cause autism (that was refuted in a later paper). There are athletes who will eat what they are told, train as they are told, who now in the NFL have to decide whether to get a mandated COVID vaccine or forfeit games. Despite their nonprofit status, the NFL is a business, and businesses are not democratic.

The same people who deny climate change, are the same people who fought lockdowns. They are the same people who want Confederate monuments to insurrectionists, but history that would correct the record from obfuscations and mythology expunged, canceled. They are the same people who fought masks, and are the same people who don't want to get vaccines because they believe in the "survival of the fittest" scenario, that they will miraculously be the fittest, the luckiest; the living. Like the Texas Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick volunteering grandparents to die for the economy in the early days of the pandemic. (He's probably not counting himself in that number on the altar of Moloch.)

To survive COVID, and climate change, E Pluribus Unum - out of many, one - has to be cosmopolitan, global. We are all Homo Sapiens, Earthlings, breathing the same air, using the same resources, and will expire on the same planet, as long as it's here, and we are. The United Nations is supposed to be our governing body to do this, a concept that is with its political enemies, conspiracy theories that start with "new world order," and authoritarian tyranny fears, that kind of falls hollow to the experiment in authoritarianism the United States made from 2017 to 2020. It was almost credibly sealed with a coup, on January 6, 2021, had it been competent. The next fascist might be more capable; the next coup might succeed.

For the survival of the species, "survival of the fittest" has to become a part of a selfish past and myth. It's easier to mask, or vaccinate against a pandemic, and mitigate climate change than building superluminal starships defying laws of physics to "escape" our mistakes.

We have to get beyond our learned prejudices, responsible for so much selfishness, sickness, and bloodshed. We need to see each other's survival in all of our best interests. Our empathy needs to evolve.

*****

“We have been forced to a point where we are going to have to grapple with the problems that men have been trying to grapple with through history, but the demands didn't force them to do it. Survival demands that we grapple with them. Men for years now have been talking about war and peace. But now no longer can they just talk about it. It is no longer a choice between violence and nonviolence in this world; it's nonviolence or nonexistence. That is where we are today.” Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

*****

No man is an island,Entire of itself.Each is a piece of the continent,A part of the main.If a clod be washed away by the sea,Europe is the less.As well as if a promontory were.As well as if a manor of thine ownOr of thine friend's were.Each man's death diminishes me,For I am involved in mankind.Therefore, send not to knowFor whom the bell tolls,It tolls for thee.

"For Whom the Bell Tolls," John Donne, Your Daily Poem

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Conscientious Stupidity...

 

 

Topics: Civics, Civil Rights, COVID-19, Existentialism, Human Rights

 

"Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity." Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

 

Today is 203 days after January 6, 2021's attempted coup. "Insurrection" isn't quite as accurate with the passage of time.

 

Yesterday, the first hearings began, and they were emotional, riveting: angering. Officer Dunn didn't sanitize the word nigger by using "the n-word" because the persons that said it to him didn't stifle their tongues. Sometimes, shock is the best disinfectant.

 

We are now well in the Delta variant, and the CDC is re-recommending masks. Red states are already fighting mask mandates like this is a recommendation by gunpoint. The CDC cannot mandate anything nationally, they can only recommend an action. They can specify it for federal workers: they can either get the vaccine, or get tested daily, and the PCR test just isn't as painful, or intrusive as the Q-tip swab. The threat of unemployment can inform decisions as well. This whipsaw pain is unnecessary self-immolation. It's dumb. It could have been avoided.

 

Despite the fact that I am fully vaccinated, I kept all of my masks and hand sanitizer. I had a feeling with the disinformation from Facebook/Fox Propaganda/Russia, and the mini-fascists clone imitators - News Min, QAN, and Dumb Bart, we would go back in time to last year, because if they can't have power, they will induce chaos.

 

The clown show I expected happened. A crowd of white grievance minstrels assembled in front of the Justice Department during the 1/6 hearings to petition for the release of the (correctly termed by the Capitol Police yesterday, terrorists) said the same after the original Civil War. The boneheads literally having wet dreams on another one should think on this: the British Sterling used to be the global currency before the dollar. An unstable, insanely racist nation would have its currency dropped, replaced by the Yuan without a second thought. White supremacy would rule a no-man's-land equivalent to a shit pile.

 

Someone ran off Matt Gaetz, and his fellow fascists by simply asking him "are you a pedophile?" Nazis seem only interested in the unborn zygote: when they become living, breathing beings requiring food, clothes, resources, education, and employment, they're either freeloaders of the system depending on their shade of Melanin or if in their pinker culture, jail bait. IF he manages to keep himself out of prison with the white privilege-AMEX card, holiday dinners with his future sister-in-law are going to be dicey.

 

Gaslighting by narcissists, and willful, conscientious stupidity is apparently the only thing "exceptional" about this oxymoronically named nation. Ragnarok is falling.

 

I have a foreboding of an America in my children's or grandchildren's time -- when the United States is a service and information economy; when nearly all the manufacturing industries have slipped away to other countries; when awesome technological powers are in the hands of a very few, and no one representing the public interest can even grasp the issues; when the people have lost the ability to set their own agendas or knowledgeably question those in authority; when clutching our crystals and nervously consulting our horoscopes, our critical faculties in decline, unable to distinguish between what feels good and what's true, we slide, almost without noticing, back into superstition and darkness...

 

The dumbing down of American is most evident in the slow decay of substantive content in the enormously influential media, the 30 second sound bites (now down to 10 seconds or less), lowest common denominator programming, credulous presentations on pseudoscience and superstition, but especially a kind of celebration of ignorance.

 

Carl Sagan, “The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark,” Good Reads

 

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Image Source: Space Billionaires, Please Read the Room, Shannon Stirone, The Atlantic

 

Topics: Civics, Civil Rights, Existentialism, Human Rights, Spaceflight

 

Note: The post title is sourced from The Atlantic article, as is the lurid artwork.

 

It is the experience of seeing firsthand the reality of the Earth in space, which is immediately understood to be a tiny, fragile ball of life, "hanging in the void," shielded and nourished by a paper-thin atmosphere. From space, national boundaries vanish, the conflicts that divide people become less important, and the need to create a planetary society with the united will to protect this "pale blue dot" becomes both obvious and imperative.

 

The thing that really surprised me was that it [Earth] projected an air of fragility. And why, I don’t know. I don’t know to this day. I had a feeling it’s tiny, it’s shiny, it’s beautiful, it’s home, and it’s fragile. Michael Collins, Apollo 11. Source: Wikipedia/Overview effect

 

The best case for taxing the rich is made by a "space race" with billionaires leaving the Earth ravaged by a once-in-a-century pandemic in the form now of the Delta variant, climate change disasters that can't be gaslighted, and modern-day Hooverville tent cities IN the richest nation in the world, exacerbated since last year by the Coronavirus. Almost all new cases in what amounts to a fourth wave are among the unvaccinated, in a bizarre, nihilistic viral analog of the Cold War doctrine of Mutually Assured Destruction, and Dr. Strangelove. But: "space, the final frontier" for billionaires, apparently is more important. Is it my observation only that each "spaceship" looks like a phallic symbol or pleasure instrument?

 

Bezos, of course, ruins the whole point of the Overview effect: “We need to take all heavy industry, all polluting industry, and move it into space and keep Earth as this beautiful gem of a planet that it is,” he said in an interview with NBC News. “That’s going to take decades to achieve, but you have to start. And big things start with small steps.” (Justine Calma, The Verge). That's a direct quote from the richest man in the world, a toss-up clone between either Dr. Evil or Lex Luthor.

 

The world's richest man has obviously not heard about space junk sipping lattes on his half-billion-dollar yacht, with a spare for the helicopter (hey, that's important). Just like Musk's "genius" idea of terraforming the planet Mars for humans by dropping nuclear bombs to warm it up. First point: Mars has no atmosphere to warm up. Second point: Plutonium-239 used in current thermonuclear devices has a half-life of 24,110 years, meaning the radiation level will be half as lethal in 964 human generations. Branson's price tag to do weightlessness is $250,000. You can afford it by entering a contest: the cost is $10, $25, $50, $100, which begs why anyone has to donate to a raffle for a ride with a billionaire? Batman didn't charge the Justice League for the Watchtower (I don't think). Bruce Wayne is a plucky superhero (or antihero); he's fictional.

 

Bezos, Branson, Musk, et al. are real, and they don't appear interested in anything other than their own enjoyment.

 

*****

 

Tuesday, July 30, 2024

 

  • Lauren writes about an astronaut who died on the latest Mars mission. People in the neighborhood say traveling to Mars is a waste of money when people on earth can't afford basic necessities.
  • Lauren also writes about the cost of water increasing. It's fashionable to be dirty since no one can afford to clean their clothes.

 

Shmoop.com: Study Guide, Parable of the Sower, Octavia E. Butler, Chapter 3

 

Rockets, moon shots
Spend it on the have nots
Money, we make it
Fore we see it you take it

 

Oh, make me want to holler
The way they do my life (yeah)
Make me want to holler
The way they do my life

 

This ain't livin', this ain't livin'
No, no baby, this ain't livin'
No, no, no, no

 

"Inner City Blues: Make Me Wanna Holler," Marvin Gaye, Genius Lyrics

 

A rat done bit my sister Nell.
(with Whitey on the moon)
Her face and arms began to swell.
(and Whitey's on the moon)

 

I can't pay no doctor bill.
(but Whitey's on the moon)
Ten years from now I'll be payin' still.
(while Whitey's on the moon)

 

The man jus' upped my rent las' night.
('cause Whitey's on the moon)
No hot water, no toilets, no lights.
(but Whitey's on the moon)

 

"Whitey on the Moon," Gil Scott-Heron, Genius Lyrics

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Smokestacks, and Psychopaths...

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Image credit: Daily Kos

 

Topics: Civics, Civil Rights, Existentialism, Fascism, Human Rights

 

In the south, you'll see some lummox proudly spewing black smoke from the back of his pickup truck (it invariably is always "his/he/him"), tricked out with dual black smokestack pipes to "own the libs," spew smoke in the air and cause environmental bleeding heart tears over caring about climate change. Indeed, "the cruelty is the point." Smoky seems to miss the point he's still on the same planet he's ruining. I'm down for him shooting his own foot: that would generate first a gasp as his talus explodes through his boot, then a guffaw. I will call 911 and tie you a tourniquet.

 

For a political party whose membership skews older, it might be surprising that the spirit that most animates Republican politics today is best described with a phrase from the world of video games: “Owning the libs."

 

Gamers borrowed the term from the nascent world of 1990s computer hacking, using it to describe their conquered opponents: “owned.” To “own the libs” does not require victory so much as a commitment to infuriating, flummoxing, or otherwise distressing liberals with one’s awesomely uncompromising conservatism. And its pop-cultural roots and clipped snarkiness are perfectly aligned with a party that sees pouring fuel on the culture wars’ fire as its best shot at surviving an era of Democratic control.

 

How ‘Owning the Libs’ Became the GOP’s Core Belief, Derek Robertson, Politico

 

Tennessee wants to halt vaccines - not just COVID, but everything! They fired the health commissioner because she was doing her job during a pandemic that's killed almost as many Americans as the 1918 H1N1 flu pandemic. Florida governor Death Santis is selling merch "Don't Fauci My Florida" after a beachside condo imploded from decaying (say it with me now: "infrastructure"), and he's second in US COVID numbers for the Delta variant. Luckily, Disney is streaming Loki because I think the Mouse may have to shut down again. "Kids get long haul COVID too." Someone needs to Fauci Death Santis' brain.

 

Fox Propaganda is pushing vaccine hesitancy as likely every anchor and crew member is fully vaccinated and following COVID protocols. Meanwhile, they are purposely sowing doubts about the efficacy of a vaccine people are fighting in the streets for overseas. This, of course, follows a Russian disinformation campaign that every opinion pundit at the Ministry of Pravda on New York's Avenue of the Americas seems to be parroting. "America's newsroom" has a Russian accent.

 

The conclusion of the Kerner Commission was we were "two Americas": one black, one white; separate, and unequal.

 

We are two Americas still: one vaccinated, one unvaccinated as a Delta variant spreads in mostly red states. For the most part, African Americans are showing social conservative values: they tend to get vaccines (most, not all), and when I'm in the store, I still see us all wearing masks. The cynical, dark calculus is, as more get sick and die (apparently, red-state republicans are cannon fodder on the altar of Moloch), the economy will falter. The party in power always gets the blame, for good or ill. This is 2022 and 2024, not because the criminal enterprise masquerading as a political party has any "ideas": it is the political equivalent of a binky for colicky, psychotic children; it is power for power's sake.

 

The presidency of George W. Bush may have been the high point of the modern Christian right’s influence in America. White evangelicals were the largest religious faction in the country. “They had a president who claimed to be one of their own, he had a testimony, talked in evangelical terms,” said Robert P. Jones, chief executive of the Public Religion Research Institute and author of the 2016 book “The End of White Christian America.”

 

Back then, much of the public sided with the religious right on the key culture war issue of gay marriage. “In 2004, if you had said, ‘We’re the majority, we oppose gay rights, we oppose marriage equality, and the majority of Americans is with us,’ that would have been true,” Jones told me. Youthful megachurches were thriving. It was common for conservatives to gloat that they were going to outbreed the left.

 

But the evangelicals who thought they were about to take over America were destined for disappointment. On Thursday, P.R.R.I. released startling new polling data showing just how much ground the religious right has lost. P.R.R.I.’s 2020 Census of American Religion, based on a survey of nearly half a million people, shows a precipitous decline in the share of the population identifying as white evangelical, from 23 percent in 2006 to 14.5 percent last year. (As a category, “white evangelicals” isn’t a perfect proxy for the religious right, but the overlap is substantial.) In 2020, as in every year since 2013, the largest religious group in the United States was the religiously unaffiliated.

 

In addition to shrinking as a share of the population, white evangelicals were also the oldest religious group in the United States, with a median age of 56. “It’s not just that they are dying off, but it is that they’re losing younger members,” Jones told me. As the group has become older and smaller, Jones said, “a real visceral sense of loss of cultural dominance” has set in.

 

I was frightened by the religious right in its triumphant phase. But it turns out that the movement is just as dangerous in decline. Maybe more so. It didn’t take long for the cocky optimism of Generation Joshua to give way to the nihilism of the Jan. 6 insurrectionists. If they can’t own the country, they’re ready to defile it.

 

The Christian Right Is in Decline, and It’s Taking America With It, Michelle Goldberg, New York Times

 

The orangutan increased his margins with African Americans and Hispanic voters, surprisingly. Members of my family voted - insanely - in 2016 and 2020 for him. I don't tend to support racists who deny rental property to blacks in New York, say the Exonerated Five should still be in jail after DNA evidence, and a confession acquitted them, and over two dozen women accusing him of inappropriate behavior and sexual assault are all lying.

 

I'll give you a Mulligan for 2016. You believed the public fiction by reality TV he was a business genius (he isn't even as evidence shows, a "stable genius"). It was for "family values," so that might mean you're bizarrely against abortion and same-sex marriage. It's like television: if you don't like the channel, you have other options, and if you're against abortion (and not a woman) or gay marriage (and not LGBT), don't practice either. Problem solved. You probably believed in cooties as a kid.

 

After four years of lies, covfefe, mangled/slurred sentences, guttural cursing, saying President Obama SPIED on him, Olympic-level obfuscation, children in cages, white supremacists in Charlottesville, fawning obsequiousness to every dictator from Putin to Kim Jong Un he could find under a rock, the unanswered murder and dismemberment of Jamal Khashoggi; rubber bullets and teargas against mostly peaceful protestors (1st Amendment - look it up), haphazardly constructed border wall boondoggles like his six bankrupt businesses, tax cuts for no-one-that-looked-like-YOU, and you STILL voted for him after what is now after "I Alone Can Fix" January 6, 2021, is shaping up to have been an attempted coup, that says a lot more about you than it does about me.

 

I'm going to have to put some real estate between us for my own mental health.

 

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